By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional
One of my earliest memories, is also one of the few memories I have of my Great Aunt Vivian. She and Uncle Clayton lived next door to my Great Grandparents. Every summer when we were little, my brother, sister and I would spend it with our grand parents…. and they are some of the best childhood memories that I have.
Even though our aunt and uncle lived next door, we didn’t see them that often. But, whenever my grandparents needed to go out and couldn’t take us with them, we would stay with next door. Uncle Clayton was usually in his recliner and Aunt Vivian would have us help her around the house.
I don’t know how many hours we spent sitting at a retro, 50’s style dining table cleaning pinto beans. Our job, was to make sure that there were no tiny stones in the beans. To this day, I can still picture the tiny, porous gray rocks. And man, were those beans delicious!
- 1 Bag 16 Bean Soup Mix (without the flavor packet)
- 1 Lb. Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cut Into 1″ Pieces
- 6 Cups Chicken Stock
- 2 Medium Vidalia (Yellow) Onions, Chopped Medium
- 1 Bell Pepper, Chopped Medium
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped Fine
- 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
- 4 Dashes Worcester Sauce
- 1 Tsp. Sriracha Sauce
- Dash Balsalmic Vinegar
- 3 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 Tbs. Mesquite Seasoning
- Pinch Salt
- 1 Tbs. Cracked Black Pepper
- To a large stock pot, add your olive oil, chopped onions, garlic and chopped bell pepper. Over medium heat, cook until onions are sweated (translucent.)
- While your vegetables are cooking, rinse your beans with cool water in a colander. Cooking Tip: When cooking dried beans, you want to make sure that you pour them out onto the counter and carefully look through them to make sure there are no small rocks/stones. This is a great task to give the kids! Also, to shorten the cooking time, soak them in cold water over night in the refrigerator.
- Once your onions have sweated, add the bacon pieces, rinsed beans, chicken stock, Worcester Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, Balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Once your beans have come to a low boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.
- Cook your beans for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on whether you soaked them over night or not.
- Finally, when your beans are tender you can either drain the stock and have the beans as a side or use in a variety of dishes. Or, you can add another 2 cups of chicken stock and serve as a Fall/Winter Soup with Oyster crackers.
- Enjoy this simple, yet flavor infused dish with family and friends any time of the year.