When I embarked on this calico beans recipe, it was much more of a journey than I would have ever guessed. It all started with a Le Creuset Bean Pot my husband found and bought for me. Then I set about perfecting a recipe for cooking calico beans, actually any kind of dried beans.
All I can say is it’s a good thing dried beans are cheap, and my taste testers were patient with testing my many trials. What I discovered was nothing short of a surprise. When I cooked my beans the way I suggest below, the flavor was nothing short of amazing. When you read the recipe you’re going to think, “no way,” but trust me it works.
Calico Beans: #Recipe
- 2 lbs. of dried beans of your choice (such as a combination of Kidney Beans, Great Northern, Pinto, Baby Lima’s)
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup of country ham or ham hock cut in the medium chunks
- Water (enough to cover the beans by 2 to 3 inches)
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Rinse the dried beans in cold water, removing any debris. Place the dried beans in a large casserole or bean pot, add the salt, pepper and ham chunks, pour enough water to cover the beans by 2 to 3 inches and stir the contents a bit to blend. Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours.Test at the 1 ½ hour mark and add more time (as needed) to reach your desired doneness. Mine took about 2 hours.
When the right texture and doneness is reached. Remove the beans from the oven, keep covered and allow them to cool. The cooling process will allow the beans to complete the cooking.
Notes: Two pounds of dried beans is roughly equivalent to 5+ cups of cooked beans. Keep in mind that old beans dry out and will take longer to cook. Try to buy the dried beans close to the time you plan on using them. If you prefer all the same type of dried beans, that’s fine. If you would like a bean mixture with different varieties of dried beans, just make sure they’re all roughly the same size. If you prefer your beans to be less soupy just cover them by 2 inches of water, otherwise use 3 or more inches. If you do reduce the water level, occasionally check the water level, about every 30 minutes or so, adding more if needed. Many different seasoning can be added to the beans before cooking, I prefer the simplest seasoning and then add various flavoring when I’m ready to serve them. I would suggest that you cook garbanzo beans, lintels or split peas separately due to the size and the time it takes to prepare each of them.
Tips: The rule of thumb when cooking dried beans is 1 teaspoon salt for each pound of beans. The amount of pepper you use is up to you. I use the same ratio because I like pepper
Alternate Cooking Methods: A method for cooking beans you may be more familiar with is the “Overnight Soak Method” where after soaking the beans in water overnight you rinse and then cook the beans. The “Quicker Soak” method is when you bring the dried beans to a boil. Simmer for one to two minutes. Then remove the beans from the heat; cover, and let stand in the hot water for one hour then proceed to cook your beans to the desired doneness. While both of these methods will work, I find the beans are not nearly as flavorful. The truth is, soaking and rinsing your beans prior to cooking removes a lot of the flavor of the beans.
Cookware: There are many kinds of pots you can use to cook beans. However, after experimenting a bit, I found a deep casserole dish or bean pot with a lid does make a difference. They hold the moisture in the pot without any loss. If you don’t have anything like that, then a good deep nonreactive pan with a lid will do. Never cook your beans in a cast iron pot. I found it gives the beans a strong metallic taste that isn’t pleasant.
About Flatulation (Gas): There is also an age-old myth about flatulation (gas). It has been suggested that by soaking, draining and rinsing the dried beans you’ll reduce or even eliminate any potential gas. I’m hear to tell you it has little to no effect other than removing flavor. It gets down to how well they’ve been cooked.
Now, who would have thought these calico beans would be so easy. I love the “mix it, set it and forget it” part, don’t you? One thing is for certain; my taste testers enjoyed the final “Susan Approved” product, and they are now making some of their own.
Time to eat…
P.S. Take a moment to check out and purchase some of the tools I used for this “Calico Beans Recipe,” below. 🙂