All these years, I have dutifully soaked dried beans the night before cooking. If I forgot, I fell back on the Loser Method, the quick soak in hot water for an hour. Well, it seems the soaking method is all washed up. It's not necessary, and in fact beans taste better without a pre-soak.
Adding to the shake up, salting them doesn't toughen them after all. I didn't believe it, but had to try it. After rinsing, (which they say isn't needed, but yuck, I'm going to rinse) put the beans in a pot. Add water. Cook. When they are tender they are done. I cooked pintos with a chopped onion, chili powder, cumin and paprika. I didn't keep track, but they cooked fast, didn't get mushy and they did seem to have a better taste. After they were done, I threw in a bag of frozen corn, a can of tomato sauce and a small can of diced chiles. Yum. I'm a believer.
Here is a supposedly even easier way, but I don't have a Dutch oven to try it in. I'm afraid all my pans would have melting handles if I did this.
How to cook dry beans in the oven:
Heat the oven to 325°. Put 1 pound of beans in a 3-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid. A clay pot is ideal. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 1 inch. Put on the lid and bake for 75 minutes. Check the beans and stir them. If they are tender, take them out of the oven. If they aren't done, put them back in for 15 minute intervals until they are, adding a cup of hot water if they seem to be drying out. This will take at most 2 hours, but will probably take less than 90 minutes.
So, there you have a cooking legend debunked. What will they tell us next - peeling bananas is so Last Century? Avocado pits are edible? Soaking beans decreases gas? Well, that remains to be seen.
photo from statesymbolusa.org