This pinto bean dish originates in Monterrey, Mexico, which is famous for charcoal Mesquite-grilled meats such as arrancherra (beef skirt steak), cabrito (goat meat), and al pastor (pork marinated and grilled upright like Greek gyro meat). This bean dish compliments each of these meats or can stand on its own as a main course served with warm tortillas, butter, and sea salt. Then, top the beans with fresh diced avocado, queso fresco, freshly pickled onions, and of course, enjoy with an ice-cold beer such as Shiner Bock or Dos Equis, Amber.
Some suggest salting the water when soaking the beans, which hardens them and keeps them from losing their skins the next day while cooking. Others will tell you to add baking soda to soften the beans, rich and creamy. However, if you add too much baking soda, it will ruin the taste of your beans and lose much of their nutritional value.
If you start with high-quality beans, you don’t need either of these steps, but if you run into one of these issues, you can try these methods:
To firm up the beans, so they don’t lose their skins, add 1 tbsp salt per quart of soaking liquid. Then, add a small pinch of baking soda or 1/16th tsp per quart of the soaking liquid to make the beans more tender.
I get my pintos from Adobe Milling in Dove Creek, CO, but any good quality pinto bean will do (Camellia, Casserole, Goya). However, dried beans will eventually go stale (1-2 years), which could be a problem if they don’t get tender after soaking and cooking.
First, rinse and clean dried beans and discard any stones, wood, or foreign objects. Once you have filled a pot with the beans, add water to cover by 1 – 1 ½ inches, pick out any floaters and discard. Cover with a lid and let rest overnight in a cold dark place. I believe in cooking beans slowly without any acid source (tomato, garlic, onions) until the beans are soft and tender. If you put everything in the pot at once, your beans will never get smooth and creamy.
Frijoles Charros or Cowboy Beans
- large pot with lid
- mixing bowls
- broiler safe pan
- chef knife
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- 2½ cups Pinto's, dried
- ½ cup bacon renderings takes about 1 lb of bacon to make 1/2 cup of renderings
- 1 Onion diced
- 2 Garlic clove minced
- 2 whole Jalapeño roasted, peeled (may substitute fresh poblano)
- ½ cup Hatch, chile green roasted and peeled or Joe Parker chile
- 2 whole Tomato plum, halved, charred cored, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil or canola oil or canola oil
- ½ cup Cilantro chopped
- 2 tbsp Southwest Seasoning
- 1 12 oz Shiner Bock (Dos Equis Amber beer or your favorite medium-dark beer)
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup Brisket, smoked or Smoked Pulled Pork
Prep the Pintos
- Before cooking beans, rinse and clean dried beans, discard any stones, wood, or foreign objects.
- Once you have filled a pot with the beans, cover with 2-3 inches of cold water, pick out any floaters and discard. Cover and let rest overnight in a cold dark place. The beans will absorb the water overnight and expand to double their size.
Prep the Tomato and Chilies
- Slice plum tomatoes in half. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, toss the halved tomatoes and jalapeños in oil.
- Next, place the plum tomatoes sliced side down and the whole jalapeños on a broiler-safe tray.
- Char vegetables under (500°F- 260°C) broiler. The tomatoes will cook first, removed if needed. Turn the chiles to blacken both sides before attempting to scrape off the skins.
Start the Cook
- Begin by cooking off 1 lb of bacon. Set bacon aside and collect renderings in a cup. Reserve
- Using a heavy-bottomed pot, preheat the bacon drippings over medium-high heat. Next, add diced white onion to the renderings once hot. Stir the onions and bacon fat to incorporate. Sauté onions until just translucent.
- Cut the tops off the prepared jalapenos and add them to the onions.
- Finally, add the beans to the onions and peppers and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Cover with a heavy lid and bring to a boil.
- Once the beans are boiling, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low to simmer. Cook the beans like this for 1½ hours. During which time, some of the water will have evaporated. Add one full beer and enough water to cover the beans again by 1 inch to correct this. Stir to loosen the beans. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cover again with a heavy lid—Cook for another 1½ hours. (Caution: Every stove is different, so you will want to keep an eye on the level of liquid. Higher heat can make the beans boil themselves dry. If the broth of the beans goes below the surface of the top layer of beans, add enough water to cover them again.)
- Chop the seared tomatoes, chopped ½ cup Hatch green chilies, reserve three tbsp of fresh chopped cilantro for garnish.
- Chop ½ cup of smoked brisket or smoked pulled pork. If you don't have these, you can chop the bacon you used to make ½ cup of bacon renderings.
- When you sample the beans and find them to be very tender, go ahead and add the tomato and the rest of the seasonings (Southwest Seasoning).
- Garnish with fresh diced avocado, queso fresco, pickled onions, fresh cilantro, and a dash of your favorite hot sauce.