These Charro Beans are cooked with bacon, chorizo, tomatoes and chili peppers for a delicious accompaniment to your favorite Mexican entrees. They’re hearty enough to be enjoyed on their own with warm tortillas and the recipe can be easily doubled to feed a crowd!
Hello, everyone! How was your Labor day weekend? I hope you had a fabulous time and fabulous food to boot.
G and I spent the last three days mostly cooped up in the house as our previously planned out-of-town trip was waylaid by the taillights of our van suddenly not working. To add to the aggravation, the auto shop we usually bring our old clunker to for repairs was closed for the long weekend. We couldn’t very well be driving around with a busted taillight and risk a ticket or worse, an accident, so home we stayed. Ugh.
To ease some of the disappointment, we decided to fire up the pit on Labor day and grill us an awesome Mexican lunch. I guess nothing heals a broken heart better than great food because halfway through our plateful of Pollo asado, Spanish rice, and charro beans, our scrapped mini vacay was long forgotten.
Charro beans or otherwise known as cowboy beans are, indeed, comfort food at its best. These Mexican-style beans start with frijoles de olla which basically means beans from the pot. The tender beans are simmered anew in bacon, chorizo, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chili peppers for a rich, smoky taste to compliment your favorite Mexican dinner entrees or Sunday breakfasts.
Like most classic dishes, you’ll find many ways of making these charro beans.
Before I blogged full time in what feels like a lifetime ago but was just April of this year, I managed the dietary department of a skilled nursing facility and worked with a predominantly Hispanic crew.
Almost every day, my staff would bring food from home to share with everyone in the department for lunch and more often than not, charro beans were part of our feast. And in the many times I’ve enjoyed these beans, not one version seemed to be quite the same as the next.
The use of bacon and chorizo is the most typical in these charro beans but I’ve tried (and loved) versions that included chopped hot dogs, ham, and chicharrones (pork rind)! While some came pretty thick and hearty, other versions were a bit more soupy to pair with warm tortillas.
As we are lovers of chili in this house, we like our charro beans on the thick side with chopped onions and shredded cheese to crown it off instead of chopped cilantro which is more customary. Hearty and flavorful, they make for a satisfying meal in themselves and are perfectly scoopable with crunchy tortilla chips!
A few things to note:
- when cooking the beans, toss in the salt when the beans are already a bit soft as adding it at the beginning will toughen the beans.
- You can cut a bit of the cook time by soaking the beans in water beforehand but do not soak for more than a few hours as they will begin to ferment.
- 1 pound dry pinto beans
- 10 cups water
- salt to taste
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ pound (about 6 slices) bacon, chopped
- 1 roll (8 ounces) pork chorizo
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 serrano chili, stemmed and minced
- Pick and discard any "bad" beans.
- In a deep pot over medium heat, bring about 10 cups of water (or enough to cover beans at about 3 inches) to a boil. Add beans and continue to boil, skimming scum that floats on top. Add quartered onion and peeled garlic.
- Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 to 1½ hours or until beans are soft. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt and continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until liquid is thickened to a soupy consistency. Add more water as needed during cooking to maintain about 4 to 5 cups.
- In a pot over medium heat, add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp and render fat. Add chorizo and continue to cook, breaking apart with the back of the spoon, until lightly browned.
- Add chopped onions and garlic and cook until limp. Add tomatoes and cook, mashing with the back of the spoon, until softened and begins to release juice. Add serrano pepper and continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add cooked beans and liquid (about 4 to 5 cups). Bring to a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Season with additional salt to taste.
- Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro if desired.