Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Not Quite Drunken Beans
For Sunday Company Dinner we decided it was taco night. Now for some people that may mean hard shells, ground meat, cheese, and trimmings. Not so here. Ours was more of an authentic Mexican taco night. I was using my recipe for Pork Carnitas for the filling, as well as my recipe for Corn Crepes instead of purchasing taco shells. I also made a delicious homemade Salsa Verde which I will share tomorrow. Today, though, I want to talk about the beans. I was looking through my Rick Bayless cookbook- Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen looking for a side dish to accompany the tacos. I stopped when I got to the bean section, enamored instantly with a recipe for Frijoles Barrachos- or drunken pinto beans. We are not big bean people, but I want to be- there are few things more economical than a pot of beans, so I thought this would be a great recipe to try out.
I did make a few adjustments and changes for my tastes. The initial recipe called for simmering the beans with some pork shoulder. I knew that in order for these beans to be good, top notch pork needed to be used, and a trip to the butcher just wasn't an option, so instead at the grocery store I looked around for an alternative. I found it in the form of Mexican Chorizo. This is a crumbly soft sausage that is packed with vibrant Mexican flavors, and I knew it would do the job nicely. My second change to the recipe was with the tequila. I really thought about it, but then decided against it for two reasons. One being that I LOVE tequila, and I really don't need a bottle around here to tempt me into getting all liquored up. The second reason I decided against the tequila was because it IS an unusual flavor, and I figured that if our guests didn't like tequila, they wouldn't like the beans. So I just simply left it out and renamed my beans Sober Barrachos. (Which, yes, I realize is actually an oxymoron saying sober drunk or somethign like that. But I like the way barrachos sounds rolling off the tongue.)
Seriously, these are some fantastic beans! I will not hide my surprise at the fact that I couldn't keep my spoon out of the pot- they are incredible. In fact, yesterday for lunch all I had was a bowl of leftover beans with a dollop of sour cream and some salsa verde. Well worth the time to make- we could become bean people after all. Especially when this huge pot of beans cost about $3 to make, so this also qualifies today's recipe as a budget-friendly idea. Served up with a bit of corn bread or some tortillas, these beans are a meal all by themselves.
Adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
16 ounces dry pinto beans
8 ounces Mexican chorizo,crumbled
8 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large white onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
Rinse the beans thoroughly and scoop into a dutch oven. Add about 8 cups of water (covering the beans by 1/2 inch), removing any beans that float. Ad the crumbled chorizo and 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. You'll need to gently stir the beans regularly and add water as necessary to keep the liquid 1/2 inch above the level of the beans.
In a medium skillet, fry the bacon, stirring regularly, until crisp, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon, leaving behind the drippings. Add the onions and chilies to the bacon grease and fry until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Scrape the onion mixture into the beans, then taste and season it all with salt and pepper. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
If the beans seem quite soup, boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the consistency of a nice brothy soup.
Just before serving, stir in the cilantro and serve in warm bowls topped with the crumbled bacon.
Makes about 8 cups of beans- serves 8 people as a main dish, about 12 as a side dish.