Pinto beans, also called red beans, are generally an inexpensive, hearty source of nutrition. Vegetarians often use them in place of meat as a source of protein. Though these beans require a long simmering time become soft enough to eat, they don’t have to be difficult to prepare. Crock-Pot® pinto beans are slowly simmered over many hours in a slow-cooker. They are also versatile when it comes to both flavor and recipe applications.
Home cooks preparing Crock-Pot® pinto beans at home must understand the difference between using canned and dried beans. Canned beans require no preparation. They can simply go into the Crock-Pot® as they are, without being drained. Dried beans must be soaked for 12 to 24 hours before cooking and must be covered with water or broth in the Crock-Pot®. The liquid soaks into the beans during cooking, rendering them tender and easy to digest.
Once in the Crock-Pot®, pinto beans require from six to 10 hours of cooking time on the lowest heat setting. Those new to using these cooking vessels should note that they need very little attention. One can usually let the contents heat all day without touching the dish. Beans may benefit from the occasional stir, but this isn’t necessary. Busy mothers, working parents, and on-the-go foodies can use a Crock-Pot® to get the benefit of a hot, prepared meal without much work.
Flavor combinations for Crock-Pot® pinto beans are practically endless. Seasoning this kind of dish typically starts with the cooking liquid. Some prefer water, but chicken, beef, and vegetable broths or stocks generally give the beans a heartier, deeper flavor. Canned beans, when drained, can also benefit from simmering in these liquids. Soups and sauces, either homemade or canned, also provide additional seasoning as well as variety. For instance, cooking in chicken stock can help transform Crock-Pot® pinto beans into Mexican refried beans, while a marinara sauce might provide the base for an Italian pinto bean dish.
Spices and vegetables added to the Crock-Pot® can turn simple pinto beans into an entire meal. Potatoes, onions, corn, and carrots are just a few veggies that soften and absorb flavors, just like pinto beans do. Tossing some chopped garlic, paprika, cumin, or even fresh basil into the mix often takes beans from plain to exotic. If desired, a cook could serve Crock-Pot® pinto beans repeatedly without boring diners, as long as the flavor variations were always different.
Crock-Pot® pinto beans can also be served in a variety of ways. When prepared simply, they can be mashed or blended into a refried bean paste and used as a dip or taco filling. Flavored pinto beans could also become part of a chili mix, a vegetable soup, or even the filling to a bean pie. Some people even enjoy them alone, topped with little more than some shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.