It took me many years to discover the secret seasoning in this Southern staple. It’s sugar! I personally don’t care for sweet things, but just a tablespoon of sugar in a big pot of beans doesn’t make them sweet while it balances the flavor. Even with a little bit of another Southern ingredient, fatback, the nutritional profile for these beans is not bad. A half-cup serving has less than 2 g sugar and 2.5 g fat, while it boasts 6 g of fiber and 8 g of protein. As a bonus, pinto beans are the basis of Simple Refried Beans.
1 oz fatback, cut into 1″ pieces
1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight in cold water, rinsed, and drained
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1. In a large pot over low heat, cook the fatback until it begins to turn translucent and renders out some of the fat. Add the pintos and seasonings, along with enough water to cover by a couple of inches.
2. Turn up the heat to bring the pot of beans to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Cook the beans at a strong simmer, stirring every so often, for two hours or until the beans are soft and creamy. Do not let the liquid drop below the beans. Add more water if necessary.
3. At this point, I usually remove half the beans with their half of the liquid to serve as pinto beans, then continue to cook the other half, stirring very frequently, until they break down and become very soft. I turn these into Simple Refried Beans.