1Remove any dirt or pebbles from the beans, rinse in a colander, place in a medium pot, cover by 2 inches with cold water, and leave to soak 12 hours or overnight.
2Place bay leaf, parsley, thyme, oregano, and peppercorns in a large piece of cheesecloth and close with butcher’s twine to make a sachet bag. Set aside.
3After the beans have soaked, drain and rinse well. Return the beans to the pot and add remaining ingredients and sachet bag. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Let boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low so the mixture is at a simmer.
4Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender and no longer starchy, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5Remove the beans from heat and discard the sachet bag and chile. Season with salt and serve or allow the beans to cool in their liquid if saving for another use.
Note: Refrigerate cooked beans in their liquid in a covered container. They will keep for up to a week.
Steve Sando, bean impresario behind Rancho Gordo, outlines the steps from beans in a bag to glorious pot o’ beans. Dried beans may not be fresh, per se, but the ones you're using shouldn’t be more than two years old. Soak them first, and then use the soaking water to cook them. A quick, hard boil followed by a long, slow simmer will get them cooked up right. (Click here for Steve's bean-cooking recipe.)
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