Pinto beans are mid-sized brown to pink beans, usually sold dried or canned. Pintos are a staple of real Tex-Mex cooking. Dried Pinto beans are speckled, but when cooked they are of uniform color. Pintos are served either whole, in a light stock with onions and bits of pork, or mashed and fried (the classic re-fried beans). Black beans have become extremely popular in recent years, but they are never used in authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, where the pinto is king.
When dried the pinto beans are a beige/brown speckled with black tiny spots. When cooked or found in a can the beans are completely medium brown with no more spots.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Dried pinto beans are sold in bags, which usually contain some small rocks and other pieces of dirt. Because of this, you need to sort the beans before using them. Remove any rocks or other debris you find, as well as discolored or oddly shaped beans.
The most tender bean comes from allowing the beans to soak in cold water overnight. Discarding the soaking water (you can use it to water plants!) eliminates many of the ogliosaccarides that cause flatulence.
Place soaked and rinsed beans in a heavy pot or pressure cooker with twice the amount of liquid:dry beans. If you started with 1 cup dry beans, add 2 cups liquid. Add any spices you intend to use at this point. Cumin or chili powder are nice with pintos. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer with the lid on for 45-60 minutes, until bean is easily mashed with a fork. Pressure-cooking beans is faster (30-40 minutes) and will render a creamy texture.
Conserving and Storing
Dried pinto beans should be stored in an airtight container, free from moisture, at room temperature.