I use my French Oven for so many things and I think if anyone can afford to buy one, they should because everything I have made in this thing has turned out so well ... and I am not a gourmet cook, trust me. And after being inspired by a post on my friend Heather's blog, I decided to make a big pot of pinto beans. I was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and even though I only lived there for the first three years of my life, elements of the culture runs through my blood. I find great comfort in the aroma of a pot of beans that cook for hours. I think the flavor of homemade flour tortillas are incomparable, and the green chili is magical.
Frijoles a la Bessie (or Pinto Beans)
This is what you should have before adding the water to begin cooking the beans. When it does start to cook, the aroma is amazing!
Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally. When beans are cooked but still starchy to the bite, place entire pot into a conventional oven at 350° for 30 minutes. Then add 1 tsp salt, stir well and put back into oven for another 30 minutes. Beans should be soft and the "liquor" or sauce should be thick and opaque.
Of course this recipe can be made vegetarian by cooking the onions in olive oil. Additional salt may need to be added to taste.
Served with a piece of corn bread or homemade flour tortillas and it makes a very filling meal. I have yet to master the art of making tortillas. They taste great, but they never end up round when I make them. I'd say they are more amoeba shaped, but if cooked right ... who cares!
Beans are very economical and abundant, which is a good thing in this economy. Leftovers can be mashed and refried for burritos, and even the pickiest eaters (i.e. my kids!) like them.