I’ve been thinking a lot lately about revisiting some of the foods I ate a lot during my childhood. The most recent trip down memory lane led me to a big pot of pinto beans.

Yes, of course, I currently eat beans as a part of my diet, but I haven’t cooked them the same way my family does . . . ever? (One of my favorite meals growing up was a bowl of pinto beans and cornbread with a little pickle relish on top.) And let’s face it, beans are delicious, healthy, and cheap. What more could you be looking for in a food item?

One big reason I haven’t made beans not from a can is that it requires the forethought to soak dried beans overnight. [Update: I’ve since learned that you don’t actually need to soak beans. However, many believe that doing so makes them less gassy.]

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, one lesson I learned is that you want to cover the dry beans with A LOT of water. It makes sense now that I type it, but I neglected to consider the fact that the beans will actually absorb some of the liquid as they sit. Needless to say, I discovered that some of my beans were no longer submerged when I pulled them from the refrigerator the next day. (To try to remedy this, I added more water and let them continue to sit for a couple of hours before cooking.)


Pinto beans with smoked ham hocks are a Southern classic. You could eat a bowl of these by themselves and be satisfied, but they also make a great side dish.


  • One 1-pound 11-ounce package pinto beans, picked through and soaked in lots of water overnight (optional)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 onion, halved or roughly chopped
  • 2 halves smoked ham hock (about 3/4 pound total)
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, plus more to taste
  • Salt, to taste



  1. Add the soaked beans, chicken stock, water, onion, ham hocks, and bay leaves (if using) to a large stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are nice and tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Season with pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Serve.


This recipe used the entire package of beans I purchased and makes a large quantity, but can be scaled for smaller amounts

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