Pinto Beans braised with Bacon & Red Wine

Pinto Beans braised with Bacon & Red Wine

Pinto Beans braised with Bacon & Red Wine

Several ounces to 1/2 lb. smoky bacon, diced

1 large onion, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, peeled if desired, and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 large sprigs woody herb of your choice (Clark’s recipe calls for rosemary, which is very nice, but I have used thyme and sage to equal success)

1 lb. dried pinto beans, dry OR soaked overnight (soaking overnight will shorten cooking time, though, so read directions carefully before beginning)

1 T. coarse kosher salt, with more to taste

2 C. dry red wine

Good olive oil, for serving (optional)

Coarsely grated parmesan, for serving (optional)

Coarsely ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)


In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until some fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to turn golden but is not totally cooked, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, another five to ten minutes, until onions begin to turn translucent and vegetables begin to turn tender. Add beans to pot, whether dry or soaked overnight (although if beans have been soaked overnight, drain them first). Add the T. of salt. Add 7 or 8 C. of water. For beans soaked overnight, this will just cover them. For dried beans, it will seem a substantial amount of liquid. Bring the beans to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. For beans soaked overnight, simmer gently for about 45 minutes to one hour. For beans being cooked from dry, simmer gently for 2 to 4 hours. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, bring the 2 C. wine to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and simmer until wine is reduced to about one-third and has formed a thin syrup. This takes about 20 minutes. When beans are tender and have begun to give off their starchy, bean-y liquid, remove any branches from woody herbs in your pot and discard them. Add the reduced wine to the pot and stir it to combine. Bring the beans to a simmer again and cook for 10 to 20 minutes more for the flavors to meld. Serve the beans alongside polenta, buttered egg noodles, rice, or potatoes. Pass olive oil, grated parmesan, and black pepper or red pepper flakes for topping. To make ahead, allow beans to cool after adding the red wine. Refrigerate until ready to eat. To heat, gently bring the beans to a simmer on the stovetop before serving.

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