Dried Beans and Hominy

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield varies from about

    4½ to 7 cups

Appears in

Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

  • About

I’ve cooked beans in many different ways over the years (stovetop, pressure cooking, with and without salt, presoaked and unsoaked, and so on), and this is by far the best method. It’s a completely hassle-free process that results in tender, creamy-textured, perfectly salted beans that can be used for any purpose: Drain them and use them in soups or salads; freeze them and break off chunks to thaw and use as needed; spoon off excess cooking liquid, hit the soupy beans with an immersion blender for a few seconds or smash some with a spoon, and serve them as is; sauté onion and garlic in schmaltz or oil, add beans and seasoning, and mash them around in the skillet to make refried beans.

You’ll notice I’ve left blank spaces for cooking times. That’s because different beans, even of the same type, cook at surprisingly different rates. Older beans will take longer than fresher beans—and very old, stale beans may not even soften at all, which is why you should try to buy your beans from sources with lots of turnover. Beans from different producers and growers all cook up a bit differently. When you’ve found ones you like, note the cooking times and set your slow cooker accordingly the next time you use them. Or, of course, just check on them after about 6 hours and every hour or so afterward until they’ve reached the consistency you want.

If you prefer, soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches (5 cm) and drain them before adding fresh water and cooking as below—but it’s totally up to you. I’ve found that it doesn’t make a huge difference in cooking times; in fact, side-by-side tests I did of soaked and unsoaked black beans resulted in no discernible difference at all in the cooking time or finished product. Soaking first sometimes (not always) results in beans that hold their shape a little more.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (455 g) dried beans (except kidney beans) or hominy
  • 1 teaspoon dried epazote (optional, see Note)
  • Aromatics (all optional): ½ onion (diced or kept in one piece), 2 cloves garlic (chopped or kept whole), dried red chiles or a pinch of crushed red pepper, 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Method

Rinse the beans or hominy in a sieve under running water. Dump them into the cooker and add 6 cups (1.4 L) or, for chickpeas or hominy, 8 cups (2 L) cold water, and the epazote and aromatics, if using. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 12 hours for beans, or 4 to 5 hours for white or yellow hominy until the beans are as tender as you want them; hominy should be tender and just a little chewy.

Uncover, gently stir in the salt, and let cool in the liquid. Drain in a colander, rinse briefly, if you’d like (I prefer not to rinse hominy, because the liquid that remains after draining is nice and thick and flavorful), and pick out the chiles and bay leaf, if you used them. Spoon into containers or freezer bags and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.