This technique has changed my cooking life. It has ended my relationship with canned beans (I never really loved you) by providing an alternative that doesn’t take hours, require planning ahead to soak, or call for a pressure cooker. The best part: it takes beans from in-the-bag to beautifully cooked in ninety minutes. True story!
I think that this (completely genius) idea first appeared on the internet on eGullet, and it came to me through the Paupered Chef. And at this point, all I can do is apologize for holding out on you so long.
Ninety-minute no-soak beans
1 lb beans
Two big pinches of salt
Preheat your oven to 250 F.
Pick over the beans to make sure there are no rocks in there. (Seriously, this happens.) Put them to a Dutch oven* and add cold water to cover them by a couple of inches.
Add the salt, and put the whole thing on the stovetop. Bring it to a boil on the stove.
When it boils, put on the top, move the entire thing to the oven, and bake for about 75 minutes. It’s worth peeking in around 40 minutes to make sure they’re still covered in water. If not, heat some more water to a boil and pour it in.
Taste one at 75 minutes to make sure that they’re done; if not, you can leave them in for a few more minutes. (If your beans take more than 90 minutes in the oven, it’s probably a sign that they’re quite old and you should check the expiration date on your package! Nothing terrible will happen to you, but they will probably suffer in both taste and texture.)
*Okay, the Dutch oven situation. They are awesome, and not just for this, and if you don’t have one, you should consider it! There are two brands, Lodge and Tramontina, that make good enameled cast-iron versions that come in around $60 (rather than the $200+ that Le Creuset and Staub will set you back).
If you don’t have one, I have an untested theory that you could make it work by boiling the water in a kettle or pan and putting the beans in a Pyrex or enameled stoneware pan, then pouring the water in, covering tightly with aluminum foil, and baking as directed. If you try this, let me know!