Russ Parsons’s bean cooking technique that Matthew talks about is nicely summarized by Steven Shaw on eGullet.
TUSCAN BEANS FROM THE OLD CLAY POT
From Pot on the Fire, by John Thorne
1/2 pound dried cannelini beans, washed and soaked for 8 to 12 hours in water to cover amply
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 or 4 sage leaves, fresh or dried
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (or pepper flakes)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Drain the beans, reserving the soaking liquid. Remove and discard any beans that have failed to rehydrate. Put the beans and everything else, except for the bean soaking liquid, into a small earthenware bean pot or similar vessel (a Le Creuset pot is fine -SM) and stir gently. Pour the bean-soaking liquid into a saucepan and heat to boiling. Add enough of this to the bean pot to barely cover its contents, reserving any remaining liquid.
2. Cover the pot, put the beans in the oven, and cook at this very low hear (they should never come to a boil) until they are nicely done, about 4 to 5 hours. Check the water level periodically during the first 4 hours, adding the remaining bean liquid, then plain boiling water, as necessary to keep the beans covered.
3. Serve the beans hot or at room temperature, dressed with a little more oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
From Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless
4 slices bacon, diced
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 can diced tomatoes (I recommend Muir-Glen fire roasted)
4 cups cooked beans, with their broth, or 2 cans pinto beans
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, cook and stir 4 minutes. Add beans and simmer over medium-low heat 15 minutes. Add cilantro and salt to taste. Beans will be soupy.
Yield: 4 servings