My father – Downtown Tom – has been experimenting in the kitchen again. This time he took notes and pictures of his culinary success and snuck it on an attachment in an otherwise blank email. He’s just trying to see if I pay attention to the notes he sends; I know his evil plans. Well, Dad, you’ve been found out. Here is your latest guest blog post, New York Times food editor Melissa Clark’s recipe for red wine pinto beans with smoky bacon, a hot dish for cold nights:

Saw the video in the New York Times app and decided to try it. (note: scroll to the bottom for the video)

Temperature outside was 30 degrees with a 15 knot wind from the West. Sky was clear and the day was beautiful. Drove to Schnucks for pinto beans. Wanted to start now so followed directions for plumping the beans up quickly. They looked like this:

plumping Beans

While they were simmering and plumping, we fried the smoky bacon:

bacon for beans

When bacon looked brown we added the onions, carrots and garlic. We did not have a Rosemary sprig, so added a bit from the spice jar. Concoction now looked like this:


In the mean while, we began the red wine syrup. It simmered and reduced:

red wine sauce

The finished product was delicious.

finished beans

Red wine pinto beans with smoky bacon.

Melissa Clark
Melissa Clark's hearty Red Wine Pinto Beans with Smoky Bacon
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course entree
Servings 8 -10


  • 1/2 pound smoky bacon diced
  • 1 large onion peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt more to taste
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving (optional)
  • Coarsely grated Parmesan for serving (optional)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper or red pepper flakes for serving (optional)


  • In the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, celery, carrots, garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Drain beans and add to pot along with 1 tablespoon salt. Pour in enough water to just cover the beans (about 7 to 8 cups). Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently until beans are just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, simmer wine until it is reduced to 2/3 cup, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove rosemary branches from bean pot and discard them. Pour wine into beans and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes longer to meld flavors and thicken broth to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired; add more salt and black or red pepper to taste.

Watch the video from New York Time food editor Melissa Clark that inspired Downtown Tom to make this dish. It’s worth the time to see her technique: