“Who made the beans.” This is the phrase you will hear when you share these Frijoles Charros or Cowboy Beans, with your family and friends. I hear it every time I bring these beans to family gatherings. They take a little time to prepare but nothing you can’t handle. These are the real deal! No short cuts here. Your patience will be rewarded in the end.
As I mentioned above these take some time to prepare. About 2 hours after soaking the beans, but most of it is just simmering time. These can be prepared several days ahead of time as well. Just reheat slowly when you’re ready to serve.
In my family I usually make these for our Christmas dinner, which is usually Mexican themed. With Tamales and Mexican Rice, these Frijoles Charros fit right in! These also pair well with grilled meats such as chicken or skirt steak.
Be sure to get the best ingredients you can find. Organic dried pinto beans, organic veggies, organic bacon, and quality pork shoulder.
- 1 pound (about 2 ½ cups) dried pinto beans
- 1 pound pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt for pork
- 8 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large fresh poblano chiles, roasted and peeled, seeded and chopped *see note
- 2 ripe, medium-small tomatoes, roasted **see note, or one 15-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- Pick over the beans for any foreign pieces, then rinse under water and place in a 4 quart pot. Add 2 quarts of water and remove any beans that float. Soak beans in the water for 4 to 8 hours, until the water has penetrated the beans. You can quick soak the beans by boiling the beans for 2 minutes, then letting them stand for 1 hour. Drain the soaked beans.
- Pour 2 cups fresh water into the pot of beans, sprinkle pork with salt and add the pork to the pot of beans, slowly bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Cook the bacon in a medium-size non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, until crisp. Remove the bacon and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat and raise the heat to medium. Add the onion and chiles and cook until the onion is a deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomato and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the tomato mixture, bacon and salt to the cooked beans. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the beans are very soupy, uncover, raise the heat and simmer away the excess liquid. For a thicker broth, puree 2 cups of the beans (with their liquid) and return to the pot. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
* To flame-roast, hold a chile with a pair of tongs while you turn it very slowly over a high gas flame, until the entire surface is blackened and blistered, about 1 1/2 minutes, depending on size. OR to broiler-roast, lay the chiles on a baking sheet and set them as close to a preheated broiler as possible. Turn them as they blister and darken until entirely blackened, about 4 to 8 minutes depending on size.**Roast tomatoes on a foil lined griddle, then lay the tomatoes on the griddle and turn then occasionally for about 15 minutes. Once the skin is blistered and blackened, let tomatoes cool and peel away the skin and the core out. Immediately place the roasted chiles in a paper bag or a damp paper towel to steam for a few minutes. Steaming helps loosen the skin, but also continues to cook the chiles so don't leave them in the bag for too long. Rub the charred skin off the chiles and rinse. To seed, cut off the stem, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seed pod, scrape out the seeds and cut out the veins. OR Lay the tomatoes down on a foiled lined baking sheet and place as close to a preheated broiler as possible. Let them roast, turning once until soft and blackened about 12 to 15 minutes. Peel and core, reserving any of the tomato juice to pour into the beans.
Serving Size 1 side serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 36 mg
Sodium 454 mg
Total Carbohydrates 31 g
Dietary Fiber 11 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 19 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless