Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Drunken" Pintos

It's been a couple of weeks since I've shared a recipe over at I Heart Cooking Clubs and it's high time I get back in the saddle!  This week's theme in the Rick Bayless series is "Holy Frijoles!". 

It's hard to eat Mexican food without a side of beans in some form or fashion.  I love a good bowl of charro beans and this version comes with a little kick of tequila, which is what makes them frijoles borrachos, or drunk beans.  This recipe from Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen has such a tasty broth flavored with cilantro and bacon.

You can used two 16-ounce cans of pinto beans or 8 ounces of dry pintos.  I used dry because I always have them in the pantry.  You can also soak the dry beans overnight if you want to cut down their cooking time.  It's not mandatory; it's a personal preference.

Give them a good rinse and pick them over to remove any stones that may be hiding amongst them.

You can used 1/2 cup cubed pork shoulder (about 2 ounces) to cook in the beans.  I opted to use extra bacon for my flavoring.  Buy a thick, smoked bacon such as an applewood bacon.  You'll be glad if you choose a quality bacon.

Another note on the bacon.  When you have to cut bacon, it makes it much easier if you put the bacon in the freezer for awhile to firm it up.

Once the beans are thoroughly tender they'll get flavored with sautéed onions and chiles.  I don't use fresh chiles to add heat to the beans because Lovey can't handle the spiciness.

That's why this is my friend.  I just squirt this into my bowl of beans and I get instant heat.  I realize it's not the same as letting fresh serranos or jalapeños simmer in the broth but a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do.
This is an easy recipe and what's really nice is you can prepare these several days ahead of time and then put the finishing touch of tequila and cilantro in just prior to serving.

An interesting variation that Rick suggests is to make these more rustic by simmering the beans with a 2- to 3-ounce piece of beef jerky.  Simply cook it with the beans, then take it out, tear it into short shreds and return to the pot.

"Drunken" Pintos with Cilantro and Bacon
Adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

8 ounces (about 1-1/4 cups) dry pinto beans
water, about 5 cups (I used half water, half beef broth)
8 thick slices bacon, divided
1 small white onion
hot fresh green chile to taste (2 serranos or 1 jalapeño)
salt, about 3/4 tsp
1-1/2 Tbsp. tequila
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Mise en place:
  • rinse & pick over beans and put into a 4 - 5 quart Dutch oven
  • measure out water and/or broth
  • cut bacon into 1/2-inch piecesdice onion into 1/4-inch pieces
  • stem, seed and slice chiles
  • roughly chop cilantro
  • measure out tequila
Add the water and/or broth to the beans in the Dutch oven, remove any beans that float, then add 1/2 of the chopped bacon.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and very gently simmer, partially covered, until the beans are thoroughly tender, about 2 hours.  Gently stir the beans regularly and add water as necessary to keep the liquid a generous 1/2 inch above the level of the beans.

In a medium-size skillet, fry the remaining bacon, stirring regularly, until crisp, about 10 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to drain on paper towels, leaving behind as much of the drippings as possible.  Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the drippings and return the pan to medium heat.  Add the onion and chiles and fry until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Scrape the onion mixture into the beans, then taste and season it all with salt.  Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.  If you are preparing ahead of time, prepare to this point.

If the beans seem quite soupy, boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the consistency of a nice, brothy bean soup.  (An alternative here is to puree 1/4 of the beans in a food processor or blender, returning them to the pot to thicken the broth).

Just before serving, stir in the tequila and cilantro, then serve in warm bowls topped with the crumbled bacon.

I have shared this recipe at IHCC