Published March 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
In Tuscany, creamy, flavorful beans transform rustic soups and stews into something special. We were determined to avoid tough, exploded beans.
The bubbling action of stew simmered on the stovetop caused our beans to fall apart. Cooking the beans at a near-simmer in a covered pot in a 250-degree oven kept them intact.
Simmered on stovetop
Near-simmered in oven
Soaking the beans in salt water overnight helps them cook up creamy, with tender skins.
2. LOW-TEMPERATURE OVEN
Cooking the beans at a near-simmer in a 250-degree oven leads to fewer exploded beans in the finished stew.
3. WAIT TO ADD TOMATOES
The acid in tomatoes can interfere with the beans’ tender texture. Add them toward the end of cooking, after the beans have already softened.