I do it almost every time. I know better, but the temptations come. I get it in my head that something extra should be added to my pot of pinto beans. I think a little onion. A little garlic. A little bacon. The truth is none are needed.
I love the pinto bean’s earthiness. It’s plumpness when cooked. It’s toothsomeness. I am fairly liberal about preparations, including cooking them in the water in which they have soaked. I believe the overnight water contributes flavor. I learned late in life from the New York Times and other sources that adding salt at the start of cooking does not, as pinto bean theory often holds, actually toughen the beans.
But I sometimes succumb to the temptation of overpowering additives like garlic or onion. Those I always regret. Oh, maybe a little bacon, but far less than you might think.
In my bean book, good water and a little salt are all you need to prepare and preserve the earthy glory of the noble pinto. Spooning them into my mouth, pot liquor under my nose, I could be lying in the loam of Dove Creek, Colorado, “Pinto Bean Capital of the World,” nutrients tingling in my roots, sun warming my dappled hide.