My husband and I were engaged for the entire winter and spent a lot of time at his parents house. Whenever we'd go over on a cold, gray, dreary day, she would have a big pot of beans ready for us and they were the most delicious, comforting thing imaginable. You'd never think beans could be so wonderful, but these are. Wonderful and simple. And then she gave us one of my favorite wedding presents - a big stockpot with a bag of pinto beans and the beloved recipe.
Now whenever it's a cold, dreary day, it's a bean day and we enjoy a yummy, comforting bowl of beans.
Fill a stockpot until 2" from the rim with water and bring to a boil while picking through the beans. Don't use old, dark or shriveled beans - or halves and pieces. Put the good ones in a colander and rinse well.
Pour beans into boiling water. Do not salt. Add 2-3 Tbs bacon grease or shortening (bacon grease is better) and cover, allowing some steam to escape. Boil hard on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, so it is still a good boil. Set timer for 45 minutes to an hour and check if water is boiled down. Add 3-4 cups boiling water. Repeat several times until beans are soft and the overall consistency is creamy - the creaminess happens naturally - no smashing beans necessary. Salt to taste.