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Bowl of beans answers a hankering

March 16, 2015

Charro beans derive their flavor from bacon, Mexican chorizo and jalapeno.

When I was growing up, my dad often would make a big pot of beans, usually navy, flavored with ham, and offer us kids bowlfuls. He’d eat them all himself, though. We weren’t eating beans. Are you kidding?

Flash forward a number of decades, and of course, I love having a pot of beans on the stove. Whether dad’s favorite or black beans, cannellini or cranberry, a bowl of beans is a welcome comfort.

A recent hankering sent me searching out a recipe for charro beans, a Mexican dish with more complex flavor than the typical refried beans. I’d had them at restaurants but never cooked them. They proved simple to make, deriving their smoky flavor from a few ingredients. A version from TV cooking show star and cookbook author Pati Jinich, of "Pati’s Mexican Table" on PBS, was just what I wanted. Her recipe calls for dried beans. I made them that way, then took a shortcut the next time with canned beans. Both versions satisfied.

As a side dish, or a meal unto themselves, their smoke and slight heat are just the thing.

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COWBOY CHARRO BEANS

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Adapted from a recipe by Pati Jinich from her website patismexicantable.com.

6 slices bacon, chopped

8 ounces fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely chopped, or more to taste

1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added chopped tomatoes or 1/2 pound fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped

3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained, rinsed (or about 5 cups cooked pinto beans and their cooking liquid)

Kosher salt, if needed

Cilantro, chopped

Tortillas

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until lightly browned and starting to crisp, 3-4 minutes. Add the chorizo; cook, breaking up the sausage into smaller pieces, until it starts to brown and crisp, 4-5 minutes.

Add the onion and jalapeno; mix well. Cook until they begin to soften, 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes; cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the ingredients come together, 3-4 minutes.

Add the beans; mix well and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, covered, until the beans are moist but not soupy, 8-10 minutes. Add broth or water if needed. Taste, and add more salt to your taste. Serve in bowls, topped with cilantro and accompanied by warmed tortillas.

Nutrition information per serving (for 6 servings): 330 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 29 mg cholesterol, 42 g carbohydrates, 22 g protein, 336 mg sodium, 14 g fiber

 

 


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