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Ms Sally’s Southern Pinto Beans Recipe

Southern Pinto Beans Serving

Delicious additions to any meal, pinto beans are another quick and easy side dish in the classic Southern tradition.  We’re featuring the recipe of our dear friend, Ms. Sally, who says that this is her most requested dish from family and friends.  Just a few simple ingredients are all you’ll need.

Sally Wood

I’d like to introduce you to one of our real Southern Cooks, Ms. Sally.  Go ahead, say it out loud, “Hello, Ms Sally.”

Ms. Sally is one more fantastic cook and she isn’t afraid to tell you that she’s 84 years old.  She loves her family, her friends, and is one of those people that can just get along with everyone she meets.  I’ve visited with Ms Sally numerous times and really enjoy sitting around talking about food and cooking with her.  She may not get around as easily as she use to, but she still likes to cook.  Ms. Sally is also the mother of my good friend, Bobby.

Bobby is a “Purveyor of Goods, New and Used,” and a regular caller to our Swap Shop radio program.  Bobby buys, sells and trades all kinds of things, and as he likes to say, “If I ain’t got, I’ll get it, cause I want to see YOU with it.”  He’s just an all around super nice guy and someone that I’m proud to call a friend.  I pick at him a lot, but he just opens himself up to it so why resist?

I know this is supposed to be about Ms. Sally’s recipe, but let me tell you a little bit about how we all met.  OK?

I first met Bobby back in 2004 when I worked at another radio station here in our town.  Bobby called the station one day to participate in some weird thing we were doing on the air.  I recognized his voice immediately.  I’d heard him call in to the Swap Shop program on another station many times trying to sell this or that and always got a kick out of his converstations and his down home appeal.

Bobby sounded a little surprised when I asked about his name.  I then told him I’d heard him calling in to the “other” station.  We talked and carried on a bit and I guess pretty much hit it off from the start.  From that day on, Bobby called me a couple of times a week to request songs or just chat a spell.

I attended a local National Day of Prayer event not long after that.  As I was walking away, this fellow walked up and asked me if I was Steve Gordon.  “Yes,” I replied.  He then introduced himself as Bobby Wood, we talked a bit while there, and I guess we’ve been friends ever since.  In the days ahead Bobby would stop by the station a time or two and even brought me a cake one day that he purchased from one of his co-workers.

By now, it was just a few days before Thanksgiving and Bobby found out that I’d be working on Thanksgiving Day with no plans to eat with family.  Being Bobby, he offered to bring me something from his own families get together.  He’d “bring it to the station,” he said.  I argued with him a bit about not wanting to interrupt his day, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  I finally accepted his offer.

Around lunch time on Thanksgiving Day, Bobby came in with 3 big plates of home cooked food.  He had two plates of turkey, dressing, bread, and vegetables, along with another plate filled with homemade desserts.  How could you not like someone like that?  I don’t think Bobby and his family had even had their own meal at that time and little did I realize, but Bobby lived about 15 miles away.  He’s just that kind of guy.  I thanked him for thinking of me that day and it wasn’t long before I was enjoying a delicious home cooked meal.

Thanksgiving is a rough time of year for me.  My wife of 17 years passed away the day after Thanksgiving in 1998 and I still had a rough time getting together with family on holidays.  Perhaps you can understand.

I ate like a King that day.  It was all absolutely delicious and home cooking like I hadn’t had in quite some time.  Bobby told me that his wife Eva and his mom, Ms Sally, had made it all themselves.  I wondered why he wasn’t as big as I was, but I guess he works his off moving all those used appliances and furniture items around.

As life would have it, about two years later I moved from the station I was at over to the station that was doing the Swap Shop program.  By this time, I had met Bobbys wife when they were both at an auction I attended, but I hadn’t met his mom.

Ms. Sally started having this gigantic Yard Sale about every day at her house and called into the program to promote it.  I’d talked with her a couple of times on the program, and on this particular day, she invited me to come up and visit her Yard Sale.  I asked her if she had any kitchen items for sale, and she said she did, so I told her that once the program ended, I’d head up her way.

It was such a delight to finally meet Ms. Sally.  She’s such a likeable person and has never met a stranger.  She just made me feel right at home.  I ended up purchasing a couple of kitchen gadgets, some cookbooks, and a bowl or two.  Then, we started talking about cooking.  I loved it.

When I asked her what she cooked that everyone liked the most, she didn’t hesitate.  “Pinto Beans,” she declared.  I told her about my plans for this website and asked if she’d share some recipes.  She said she would, and I asked her about her Pinto Beans.  She began telling me all about them.  Now, I haven’t actually tried any of her own pinto beans myself.  She’s promised me that the next time she cooks up a big old pot that she’ll give me a call.  I can’t wait.  In the meantime, here is the recipe that she gave me on how to cook her Pinto Beans.  I tried to cook them just the way she described it all to me that day.  I hope you might give them a try as well.  Ready?

Let’s Get Cooking!

Pinto Bean Ingredients

These are your ingredients.  Pretty simple….with excellent results.

Sorting the beans

Spread your dry pinto beans out in a large plate, pan, or on your counter top to sort through them.  The beans are harvested mechanically and haven’t been washed.  You’ll want to look through them for small stones, sticks, hard beans, or other foreign matter prior to cooking.  Remove any bad things you find and throw them away.

Rinse the beans

Place the dry beans in your colander and give them a good rinse under cool running water.  This helps to remove any dust and dirt that might be on them.  Swirl them around with your hand and rinse them good for a minute or two.

Soak the dry pinto beans

Place the washed beans in a good size pot and cover them with about 6 inches of cold water.  All dry beans require soaking for 6-8 hours or overnight to rehydrate.  I always just do this right before going to bed and let them soak overnight.  That way, they’re ready the next day for when I’m all set to start cooking.  If you need to cook them sooner, check the back of your bag for more options.  Most bags will have instructions on how to do a quick soak.  To do this, you’ll place the washed beans in water, heat them for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat.  This will speed up the re-hydration process and it works just as well.

Let dry pinto beans soak overnight

Here’s how they will look after soaking overnight.  See how they plumped up?

Drain off the water

Pour the beans back into the colander to drain them.  We’ll also need to wash them again.

Rinse the soaked pinto beans again

Place the colander back under cold running water and rinse well.  Stir them around again with your hand and rinse for another minute or two.

Pot of boiling water

I used the same pot I soaked them in to cook my pintos.  Just rinse the pot, and fill it about half way with water.  Place the pot on your stove over medium-high heat.  You’ll only need about an inch or so of water over the top of your beans.  I already know that filling this particular pot about half full with water will be perfect for cooking my beans.

Add the pinto beans to the pot of water

When the water starts to heat up, go ahead and add in the rinsed and drained beans.  You may want to raise the heat up a bit to bring the beans to a slight boil.  Just don’t forget to turn it back down once you’ve added all the ingredients.

Add a whole onion

Once the beans reach a slight boil, drop in the whole, peeled, Onion.

Add fat back to the pinto beans

Then, add about three slices of Fatback.

Add cayenne pepper to the pinto beans

Add the 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper.  It’s not enough to make it hot, just adds a little spice and flavor.

stir the pinto beans

Give it all a good stir.

place lid on the pot

LOWER the heat down to about medium-low.  Cover the pot and let the beans simmer.  They will need to cook between 1 to 2 hours until tender.  This will depend a lot on your stove and conditions in your kitchen so the time may vary either way.  You’ll want to remove the lid and stir them about every 30 minutes or so.  Watch the level of the liquid and make sure it doesn’t drop below the top of the beans.  If it’s cooking too fast, you’ll lose liquid fast.  Reduce the heat a little more if need be.  If the liquid is evaporating too quickly, just add a little hot water to bring the level back up to just a little above the top of the beans.  Cooking is all about making adjustments as you go along.

let the pinto beans simmer for awhile

After the beans have simmered for awhile, test a spoonful to see if they’re getting tender.  They will continue to cook after you turn the heat off, so don’t let them overcook or they will turn out mushy.  You’ll also be tasting them to see if they need any additional seasoning.

add additional salt if needed

Personally, I found that my beans needed a little extra salt.  Yours may not.  It’s all about personal tastes.  The pork Fatback didn’t add a lot of salty taste like hog jowl or even bacon grease might would have.  I went ahead and added 1 teaspoon salt to the pot.  Remember to always test your recipe before adding additional seasonings, especially salt.  And, always add the salt at the end of the cooking cycle.  As a note, the added salt that I used is NOT included in the printable recipe below.  If you do add salt or pepper, cover the beans and let them simmer for about 15 more minutes to absorb the seasonings.  The beans are now ready to serve in a bowl all by themselves, or as a side dish to about any of your favorite meat dishes.  Add a little fresh baked, skillet cornbread, and you’re ready to go.

Enjoy your pinto beans


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