Frijoles De la Olla – Creamy Rancho Beans
1 pound pink beans
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ham hock or ham bone (optional)
10 C. water
2 t. salt
2 tablespoons lard (homemade) or olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 t. finely ground black pepper
Place the beans in a strainer and rinse under cold running water. Check for stones or foreign matter.
Combine the beans, onion, garlic, optional ham hock and the water in a 4- quart pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then partially cover and simmer for 1 hour, until the beans begin to soften. Add the salt. If the beans are no longer covered with liquid, add hot water to cover. Partially cover the pot and continue to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer, until the beans are very tender. Remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour.
To thicken beans: Heat the lard in a large cast-iron skillet over medium- high heat. Sprinkle in the pepper (avert your face from the pepper fumes), then pour in 2 cups of the warm beans. As the beans absorb the fat, mash them with a potato masher or wooden bean masher. Add 1/2 cup of the bean liquor from the pot. Simmer and add another cup of beans and 1/2 cup bean liquor. Simmer the thickening beans, mashing them constantly to give them a creamy texture. Continue adding beans and bean liquor to the skillet until you have a thick unctuous mass of beans that fills at least half of the pan. Stir the thickened beans back into the pot holding the unthickened beans. Cook and stir over medium heat until well blended.
Serves 8 to 10.
Note: These beans were never soaked before cooking.