From the Back to Basics article in the May 2017 issue.



Frijoles de Olla

Serves 6 to 8



Bolitos, Anasazis, favas—any of these beans can be simmered simply in salted water with tasty results. For pintos, which reign supreme, we suggest using the seasoning combination favored by Noe Cano, the longtime chef de cuisine at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.




  • 2 cups dried pinto beans

  • 8 cups water, or more as needed 1 head of garlic, minced

  • 2 dried chipotle chiles

  • 2 teaspoons dried epazote or 1 tablespoon minced fresh epazote, optional

  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste




  1. Pick through the beans and rinse them, discarding any gravel or grit.

  2. Place the beans in a stockpot or large, heavy saucepan. Cover them with water and add the garlic, chipotles, and optional epazote.

  3. Bring the beans just to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans uncovered. Plan on a total cooking time of 2 to 2 1⁄4 hours. After 1 hour, stir the beans up from the bottom and check the water level. If there is not at least an inch more water than beans, add enough hot water to bring it up to that level. Check the beans after another 30 minutes, repeating the process. Add the salt after the beans are well softened, and continue simmering. Check every 15 minutes, keeping the level of the water just above the beans. There should be extra liquid at the completion of the cooking time, but the beans should not be watery. If you wish, remove 1⁄2 to 1 cup of the beans, mash them, and return them to the pot for a thicker liquid.

  4. Serve warm. The beans keep several days, and are even better reheated.