Bayo Chocolate Beans and Polenta


When I started exploring plant-based diets a couple of years ago I relied on canned beans. It was hard enough trying to figure out what we were going to eat that day and preparing all of our meals and the thought of preparing my own beans seemed to be too much. So I was happy to use canned beans in my recipes. I have since seen the light and when someone tells you that beans cooked at home are light years away from canned beans, believe them. It is true.  And the fresher the beans, the less time they take to cook.

A while back I asked my sister, who lives in Santa Barbara, to send me some specialty beans that are available there. She said she would and then asked me if I knew about Rancho Gordo, the bean place. I didn’t so I immediately Googled them and then my life changed.

WWW.RANCHOGORDO.COM has many different beans and their story is  interesting. Feeling like a kid in a candy store, I ordered several beans including Bayo Chocolate. Who could resist the name? These small beans are indigenous to Mexico and while they look like chocolate, they don’t taste like chocolate. Which is a good thing.


  • 1 cup Bayo Chocolate beans
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cp diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced red peppers
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 teas. cumin
  • 2 teas. black pepper
  • 1/2  teas. chili powder (or more depending on its heat)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teas. smoked paprika



After rinsing and sorting the beans put them in a large heavy pot with the water and let soak for six hours or more. When the beans have softened you will have approximately two to three cups of beans.

Sauté the onion, celery, carrots and red pepper in a dry pan. Once the vegetable lose their water and start to brown, add a few spoonsful of broth  or water to the pan to loosen the vegetables and get up all the sticky brown bits. Do this a couple of times.

Add the sautéed vegetables and the seasonings to the beans. You want  the liquid come up 1 to 2 inches above the level of the beans and vegetables so you may need to add more water or broth. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then turn down the heat to low so that only the occasional bubble breaks the surface. Keep the lid ajar on the pot so that some of the steam escapes. Cook gently for two hours and check to see if the beans are soft. They may take another hour so keep checking every 20 minutes or so. Add the salt when the beans are almost soft. Let the beans simmer for another 30 minutes so that they absorb some of the salted liquid.

You can skip the soaking step with the beans and plan to cook them for 4-5 hours on the stove.  You can also sauté the vegetables, combine them with the seasonings and the beans, bring them to a boil and then put them in a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. It all depends upon your schedule. You can also make a double batch and freeze some of the cooked beans with their broth.

Make the polenta while the beans are cooking.

Spoon some of the polenta into bowls and then spoon some of the beans on top of the polenta. I like to serve it with warm tortillas, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, chopped scallions and a little minced fresh oregano.


  1. You don’t mention draining the beans and adding more water to cook them. Do you cook them in the soaking liquid?

  2. I put this in the slow cooker u soaked and when it was almost done, I re added the same spices. It turned out wonderful. I will definitely make it again and again.

  3. I do cook my beans in the same liquid. In fact I usually don’ soak them anymore, just start cooking the beans. You can use either method depending on which is more convenient for you.

  4. It is hard to say because everyone’s taste for salt is different. I made a pot of pinto beans yesterday — it was four cups of uncooked beans to start with — and once they were soft I added about two tablespoonsful of kosher salt to the pot. I also shook some table salt on them when I was eating them later. As you probably know a measure of kosher salt does not provide the same amount of saltiness as a measure of table salt. I use kosher salt primarily in cooking and then use table salt or sea salt when I am plating the meal. I cooked the beans with a bay leaf and a quarter of a large onion. They turned out to have a good flavor but would have been better if I had added some garlic, oregano and cumin to the pot.

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