Web exclusives, Beans
Total Time: 15 minutes
Spread the beans on a clean surface and pick out any dirt or pebbles. Rinse the beans in a colander, place them in a pot, cover with cold water, and leave to soak overnight.
Place bay leaf, parsley, thyme, oregano, and peppercorns in the center of a piece of cheesecloth and tie the ends with kitchen twine to make a sachet bag.
After beans have soaked, drain them and discard water. Rinse the beans well. Put the beans back in the pot, add remaining ingredients and the sachet bag. Fill the pot with just enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a slow boil for 5 minutes and then lower the heat to a low flame, or bake in an oven at 300ºF for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans start to get tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Continue cooking for another 1 ½ to 3 hours until beans are completely tender and no longer starchy. (According to Paula Wolfert, a way to check if the beans are done is to remove a few with a spoon and gently blow on them. Their skins will break if they’re ready. Or you can just taste them.)
Remove beans from heat and discard the cooked vegetables and sachet bag. Allow beans to cool in their liquid.
Note: the cooked beans will keep for up to a week in the fridge and longer if frozen.