Pot of Beans
Pick over beans to remove any pebbles or broken beans and rinse well under cold water. Place in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak for 4 to 24 hours.Advertisement
When you're ready to cook the beans, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and celery (if using). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the pan. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. If at any time the liquid level drops below the beans, add 1 cup hot water. When the beans are nearly soft, stir in salt. (Do not drain: beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and the liquid can be used in some recipes.)
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the beans in their cooking liquid for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
?To soak or not to soak? Soaking beans before cooking helps them to cook more evenly and cuts down on the total cooking time. So if you've planned ahead, soak them. If you don't have time, skip the soaking, but plan to cook the beans longer. Fresher beans, which are less dry, need less soaking time than beans that were harvested more than a year ago.
1 starch, 1 lean meat