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Aug 21, 2008 06:46 PM

Red Beans and Rice--Presoak or no?

I have an old New Orleans Junior League cookbook with what looks like a good recipe for red beans and rice. They don't say to soak the beans beforehand, but just to cook them for 2.5 hours. Does this make sense? Package directions say to soak the beans overnight, and then cook for 1.5 hours. Is an extra hour enough to make up for not soaking?

I am irritable and tentative about cookbooks and beans right now because I made a bean soup recipe recently from a French cookbook that had you add 2 cups of wine to the cooking water. The acidity made the beans take 6 hours to cook so I had to come up with something else for dinner. Being Friday tomorrow and all, I'd just as soon not have to think fast.

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  1. Soak those beans over night first. Or if this message reaches you too late, you can do a quick soak where you put the beans and water in a pot, bring it up to a boil for 5 minutes, then take it off the heat and leave them to soak for a 45 min -2 hours. The freshness of your dried beans will come into play for your soak time, meaning the fresher your dried bean, the less time it takes to get them soft enough. Sometimes those Junior League books assume as certain amount of knowledge on the part of the cook when they give a recipe, but unless they are lentils, I say the rule of thumb is to always pre-soak beans.

    1. Tonight we had a batch of Buster Holmes' red beans and rice. The beans were washed (per the recipe), cooked for approx 2 hrs and came out perfectly: tender-soft, intact, not disintegrated and tasty. FYI - I used small red beans.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sarah

        Are you the only other person in the world besides me that has Buster Holmes' cookbook? If so, nice to meet you!

        1. re: Clarkafella

          I hope you two realize just how much those cookbooks are worth!

          1. re: Clarkafella

            I've got it too, and now you're going to send me looking for the recipe. My method is based on his one with the "Sauternes" (obvoiusly I assume he means the domestic 'jug wine' version that I used to see about 30 years ago, not the real thing. I usually use whatever non-acidic white I have on hand sweetened with apple juice). That one has you soak the beans with the wine, worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, onions, maybe a few other things, overnight and then cook the beans the next day with all that and some salt pork. At least, that's what I recall...

            1. re: Clarkafella

              No, not a possessor of said book, sorry to say. Got the recipe the old fashioned way, via google. But it's still nice to meet you!

          2. I'm an advocate of not soaking beans. I find it unnecessary. Beans will cook fine without soaking. It may take a little longer but it climates the hassle and extra step of soaking. If cooking in a conventional method like a heavy pot, the oven will make your life easier. Beans on the stove will need to be monitored and stirred. In the oven the temperature is much more steady and you can put them in and forget about them for a couple of hours. Do check them for doneness. The only beans I soak are garbanzo beans prior to making falafel and then you just soak without cooking.

            I also wanted to add that you can salt your water before cooking so the beans will have better flavor. Salt will not prevent beans from cooking. ACID will in fact keep beans from cooking. That's why your beans too 6 hrs to cook. Add acid at or near the end.

            1. If you want them to cook faster; soak 'em. Otherwise, it isn't necessary.

              1 Reply
              1. re: todao

                I don't find this to be the case. I use a cookbook from the 40's and have been making its chili recipe for many years. It does not call for soaking the red beans, but just simmering one pound for 1.5 hours (after picking through and washing. Perfect every time. I did notice the bean bag says to presoak, then cook for 2 hrs (a half hour longer!) - and this for one cup of beans!?

              2. I have always soaked my beans, just because I thought they were better. Well last week, I wanted beans and I wanted them now. I boiled them hard, for a couple hours. Then went on and make them as I normally do. Guess what? They were terrific.
                I usually soak overnight and cook in the crockpot. I probably will continue to do it this way, but absolutely if you don't want to wait, they will be just fine. Just don't salt the water.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chef chicklet

                  As referenced in my post above, in prepping the beans for my chili recipe, I simmer one pound of beans in 6 cups of water, with 1.5 tsps salt added. It's always perfect and gets rave reviews.