I can still remember the first time I made a pot of home-cooked beans. Up until then my only experience of beans was straight from a can. Cooking dried beans felt exotic and old-fashioned, fancy and cowboy all at once. I took my first bite of a simple batch of Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo and almost yelled out loud — they surprised me so much. Deeply rich and meaty, swimming in a broth that came just from the beans — no garlic and onions — it seemed like kitchen witchery that transformed dry beans and water into such flavor.
Beans have become a regular staple in my kitchen since then, no less magical for their familiarity. But I did discover an even more magical way to cook them: in the oven. Let me explain why this is my favorite method of all.