From Carola’s Brazilian neighbor, Sinclei:
1 lb. dried beans—pinto, red, or black
10 cups water
2 cups onion, chopped
2 whole garlic cloves, finely minced, or more as desired
4 Tbsp. olive oil or more as desired, divided use
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Exact measurements don’t really matter with this recipe. Wash the beans well and pick over them. Discard any broken beans and rocks (Yes, once in a while, you’ll find a pebble. They don’t taste very good.) Cover the beans with the 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain well. (Don’t let the beans stand more than 1 hour without refrigeration or they’ll sour.)
Dice the onion and garlic and sauté in in 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Be careful not to burn the garlic. It gets bitter if it browns.
Add the onion, garlic, more olive oil, water to cover, and bay leaves to the beans and cook over low heat for several hours until the beans are soft. Add water as necessary to prevent burning. The mixture will be fairly thick when done. Discard the bay leaves. Mash some of the beans, and mix in the mashed beans with the whole beans. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste. (Optional) Add a little olive oil on top of each serving to taste.
Serve with rice, corn, fresh tomatoes, and Fritos.
Notes: Dry beans that are more than a year old will probably not soften properly when cooked.
Don’t add salt until the beans have completed cooking. It toughens the skin.