How to Cook Dried Beans and Make an Awesome Meal

Once with cooking at home is to optimize our spending and still have great meals. I don’t want to go cheap on ingredients and sacrifice taste just to save money. Instead I’d like to learn ways to prepare meals that

How Much Do I Need

One of the first questions I had before preparing the beans was figuring out much I need to use to make the right amount for the 3 of us. I found a handy guide online that I used as my reference point.

1/3 cup dry beans = 1 cup cooked beans
1/2 cup dry beans = 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
2/3 cup dry beans = 2 cup cooked beans
1 cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans
2 cups (1 pound) dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans

Soaking the Beans 

There are different schools of thought when it comes to soaking beans. Some let them soak for 6-8 hours or overnight. I prefer the ‘quicker’ method of bring a pot to boil, adding your beans (boiling them for about 3 minutes), removing them from the heat and letting them soak for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  You then cook them as usual.

If I can get my beans tasting well and ready to go in a shorter period of time, then that’s method I’ll use. However there are many who feel strongly about soaking their beans longer before cooking, so try both and see what works best for you.

Espresso Black Bean Chili

How can I have a post about preparing beans and not share a fantastic recipe that uses them in bold way? I came across this wonderful Espresso Black Bean Chili on Bittman’s site and instantly fell in love with it.

Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours, largely unattended

  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 1 1/2 pounds whole; canned is fine; don’t bother to drain)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, 1 to 2 cups brewed coffee, or 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar or 3 tablespoons molasses
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 pound dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2.  Stir in the tomato, espresso, chili powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and beans and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily but not violently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  3.  Continue cooking until the beans are tender, anywhere from another 45 minutes to 11/2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper. Serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

With colder days already here in many parts of the country, this recipe is even more appealing to me.

Thoughts on Cooking with Dried Beans

I’d love to get your cooking tips and tricks. For those who’ve cooked with dried beans before, how you like to prepare and season them? What are some of your favorite dishes that you use them in?

Photo Credit: ohbernadine