Thursday, August 23, 2012

Charro Bean Recipe

This is a great "big ol' pot-o-beans" recipe that i got from a friend's sister.  I don't know her sister, but can gather much by her humor in the recipe...take her lightly and adjust where you need to. 
For example, i don't use fresh tomatoes, canned is all i have time for around here, and it turns out just fine.  I also don't use jalapenos or the Maggie seasoning.  Actually, i make it a little different each time and it always turns out great.  These are so good that we even eat the beans just as they are for lunch the first day i make them, them mix it up a bit for other meals, ie bean and cheese burritos, etc. 
Also, she doesn't note how much salt to use and for a cooking challenged person like me, i need an exact amount.  Trial and error has brought me to the conclusion that 2 TBS salt is great for my family.  Play with it until you find what works best for you.  Also, i don't use bacon as suggested but add a ham hock while cooking the beans for 2 hours, then take it out.  We happen to have "Wilbur the pig" in our freezer, so hocks are plentiful.  Otherwise, I'd use bacon.
One more suggestion is that you don't have to soak over night if you forget, like i always do.  The quick soak method is as follows:
Cover beans with water and bring to a boil.  Turn off stove and remove pot from heat.  Let sit for approx. 2 hours then proceed with recipe.  Usually, i don't even let them sit the 2 hours since i'm trying to get them ready by lunchtime and it's already 9:30am.  Despite this, they seem to turn out fine and i think the beans seem firmer this way and don't mush as easily??  Either way, they taste yummy!
Hope you enjoy!  Let me know how it goes if you try this!

Charro beans recipe

1 lb dried pinto beans - sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight
6-8 whole cloves of garlic (peeled, of course!)
1 pound peppered bacon, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
really... please don't use canned tomatoes for this. I must insist.1-3 jalapenos, diced finely how hot do you want it, big guy? 1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed, chopped
Maggi Seasoning to taste (this is a liquid seasoning usually found in the Mexican foods aisle)
*Cover the pinto beans with cold water, and add all the garlic cloves. Don't add salt at this point because salt can make the beans tough.
*Bring this to a boil. When it boils, reduce it to a simmer and cook, covered, over low heat until the beans for 2 hours are nearly done.
Simmer is a key word here. The water should be barely bubbling. If you boil the heck out of the beans you'll end up with Split Bean Mush, and the angels will weep. About 2 to 2 1/2 hours of simmering will do the trick. Keep checking to make sure you don't need to add more water... burned beans are a smell you won't soon forget, and you do not want this odor permeating your curtains, believe me.
*Toss that diced up bacon into a pan on medium heat and fry it until it's almost all the way done. Add the onion and saute in the bacon fat until the onion is soft. Maybe 10 minutes or so. If you're using
very fatty bacon you might want to pour off some of the fat before you do this. But probably, since you're a health-conscious citizen of the world you weren't using very fatty bacon in the first place. I applaud that; you were using lean bacon from locally grown, humanely processed pigs. Well done!
*When the onion is softened, add the jalapeno and the tomatoes. Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are nice and soft.
*Slide this whole saucepan o' goodness into the pot of beans.
*Taste, and add as much salt as it needs. Now is not the time to be all sodium-conscious and responsible. We didn't come all this way for bland beans, did we? No, we did not. Make it taste good!
*Simmer this all together for half an hour. Stick your face over the pot and give yourself a bean facial. Inhale. Mmm... Bean aromatherapy!
*Add the chopped cilantro and simmer for another 10 minutes.

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