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Basic Beans

  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups


  • 1 pound dried black or navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Put the beans in a large pot or mixing bowl, add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches, and soak the beans at room temperature, uncovered, for at least 8 hours. Or, for the quick-soak method, bring the pot of beans to a boil over high heat and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover tightly, and let stand for 1 hour.
  • Drain the beans. Place them in a medium saucepan with the bay leaves and enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender, about 50 minutes, skimming occasionally to remove the foam that forms on the surface.
  • Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool. Discard the bay leaves and season with the salt and pepper. Put the beans in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. (The beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for up to two months.)