Basic Pinto Beans

14 Jan

basic pinto beans

I’ve most likely waxed lyrical on here about chipotle peppers before, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly appreciated them quite so much as when I saw them on a grocery store shelf for the first time in months. It’s been much easier to find some ingredients here in Montevideo than in Buenos Aires, despite it being a smaller city – I’m not positive on why, but I suspect it’s most likely because of the strict regulations and high taxes on imports into Argentina. Whatever the reason, I finally had my hands on a can of smoky chipotle peppers in spicy adobo sauce, and I knew I had to make good use of them. With my recent love of cooking up dried beans, it made sense to use these wonderful peppers as the flavor backbone for a pot of pinto beans. And they did not disappoint, imbuing each creamy bean with smoke and spice.

Basic Pinto Beans
Yield: 6 – 7 cups cooked beans


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil*
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (from chipotle peppers can)
  • 1 lb dried pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water, then drained**
  • 6 cups water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*If you’re not a vegetarian and you have some on hand, use lard or bacon fat.
**Alternatively, you can cover them with boiling water, and soak for an hour or two.


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then sautee 1 onion, diced until softened and translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes.
  2. Add 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced, 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, and 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (from chipotle peppers can), and sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 lb dried pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water, then drained and 6 cups water, and bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and let simmer until the beans are softened and fully cooked, about 1 to 2 hours. Skim any white foam off the top, then stir occasionally, adding extra water if needed to keep the beans covered by about an inch.
  4. Stir in salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks (or frozen for longer).

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