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. Top the beans with fresh diced avocado, queso fresco, fresh pickled onions and of course, enjoy with an ice cold beer such as Shiner Bock or Dos Equis, Amber.
When soaking the beans, some suggest salting the water which hardens the beans and keeps them from losing their skins the next day while cooking. Others will tell you to add baking soda to soften the beans so they are rich and creamy. However, if you add too much baking soda it will not only ruin the taste of your beans, they will also 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. To make the beans more tender add a small pinch of baking soda or 1/16th tsp per quart of soaking liquid.
I get my pintos from Adobe Milling in Dove Creek, CO, but any good quality pinto bean will do (Camellia, Casserole, Goya). Dried beans will go stale eventually (1-2 years), so if they don’t get tender after soaking and cooking, this could be the problem.
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 source of acid (tomato, garlic, onions) until the beans are soft and tender. It is only after your beans are cooked that you should add the rest of the seasonings. If you put everything in the pot at once, your beans will never get soft and creamy.
Frijoles Charros or Cowboy Beans
- 2 1/2 cups Pinto's, dried
- 1/2 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)
- 1/2 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
- 1/2 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
- 1/2 cup Brisket, smoked or Smoked Pulled Pork
The night 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.
Begin by cooking off 1 lb of bacon. Set bacon aside and collect renderings in a cup.
Slice plum tomatoes in half.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes and chiles in oil.
Place the plum tomatoes sliced side down and the whole jalapeños on an oven safe tray.
Char vegetables under 500 degree broiler. The tomatoes will be done first, remove if needed. Turn the chiles to blacken both sides before attempting to scrap off the skins.
Remove tomato skins with a set of tongs.
Gently scrape the skins from the chiles with a knife.
Using a heavy bottomed pot, preheat the bacon drippings over medium high heat.
Add diced white onion to the renderings once it begins to smoke.
Sauté onions until just translucent.
Add two chiles with seeds (whole).
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 med or med-low to simmer. Cook like this for 1 1/2 hours. At that time, some of the water will have evaporated. Add 1 full beer and/or enough water to cover the beans again by 1 inch. 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 1 1/2 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, chop 1/2 cup Hatch green chilies, reserve 3 tbs of fresh chopped cilantro.
Chop 1/2 cup of smoked beef brisket or smoked pulled pork. If you don't have these, you can chop the bacon you used to make 1/2 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 ingredients. Stir everything together and serve garnished with fresh diced avocado, queso fresco, pickled onions, fresh cilantro, and a dash of your favorite hot sauce.