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Pinto Beans and Rice

Serves 8

I love beans as a main dish and this recipe is one of my favorites. It is very versatile. Beans and rice is a southern dish that varies depending on the region. You can use other types of beans, such as red kidney, and you can add or substitute other seasonings. The smoked meat adds a lot of flavor, but the beans are still very good without the meat for a vegetarian version. See the notes below for additional suggestions. For a traditional southern meal, serve with cooked collard greens and cornbread, both of which are in the similar and related recipes links.

Ingredients

Place the beans and water into a Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let set for 30 minutes. Return to heat; add the onion, green pepper, bay leaf, bacon or ham hock, thyme, parsley and pepper to taste. Add the garlic using a garlic crusher, or chop very finely. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 2 hours. (The amount of moisture that beans absorb varies. You might need to add water at some point.) Taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed. Add the hot sauce and continue to cook another 20 minutes. Serve over cooked rice, passing hot sauce separately for those who want more.

Notes: Some people prefer less rice to the amount of beans. If so, just make less. Alternately, if you need to serve more people, make more rice. I always add some of the herbs that are in the beans to the rice as it cooks for extra flavor. Although white rice is traditional, I have used brown and it is equally good. I have also added greens during the last twenty minutes rather than cooking them separately. This dish is even better if made a day ahead. The beans can be made in a slow cooker. Consult the manufacturer's directions for bean dishes. The recipe can be made in any amount.