Mexican cowboy beans: Frijoles charros
A Norteño dish originating in Tamaulipas, this is the classic accompaniment to the grilled beef dishes of northern Mexico. It is an ideal make-ahead dish, especially good with barbeque, improving as the flavors come together. Although the initial cooking of the beans can be done in a pressure cooker, a slow-cooking pot, such as a clay casserole, should be employed once the other ingredients have been added.
- 2 lbs. pinto beans or frijol de mayo, washed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
- 2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
- 8 large garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
- 2 sprigs epazote
- 1/2 lb. bacon, diced (chorizo or vegetarian chorizo may also be used)
- 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 6 serrano chiles, chopped
- salt to taste
Place the beans in a large pot with half the onion, half the garlic, oil and epazote. Add 2 quarts water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until tender (35-45 minutes if done in a pressure cooker.) Add salt to taste.
In a large saucepan or clay casserole, cook the diced bacon until some of its fat is rendered, add the remaining onion and garlic, and saute until the onion softens. Add the tomato and chile, and continue cooking until the tomato releases its juice. Add the cooked beans with their liquid and cook over a low flame for 20-30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Taste for salt.
Serve in bowls, as an accompaniment to grilled beef or lamb, offering chopped onion as a garnish. Serves 12-15
The cuisines of Northern Mexico: La cocina norteña