BEANS FOR BREAKFAST
If you know me, I’ll remind you often that I’m from Texas. Beans are big here, and although I love all beans, I wanted to share a Texas classic. The Pinto. There are so many ways to enjoy the wonderful pinto, but my favorite: The Borracho. Now, if you aren’t from around these parts, you may not be as excited about the pinto bean as myself. The pinto may not be as flashy as some other beans out there, but she is delicious, undeniably so. If you are already a pinto lover, you’ll definitely love this recipe.
Everyone knows that tortilla chips and salsa are served on the house in Tex Mex restaurants. Dropped off by fast moving servers with the giant ice waters as soon as you sit down. Refilled before you can get to the last few. Well, if you’re a professional, like me, you also know that in the best places, they’ll give you a small bowl of charro, or borracho, beans to start out with too. Charro and borracho beans are similar, and sometimes used interchangeably. I grew up with the understanding that borrachos were charros, just with beer. Both are served more of as a soup, with lots of thin, delicate broth.
Borrachos aren’t typically served for breakfast here, but beans definitely are. Mostly in the morning they’re wrapped in a tortilla, often served with nopales, avocado, potato, or cheese. But I love a bowl of borrachos, and why not start out with them in the morning and just keep ‘em hot on the stove all day?
In The Rancho Gordo Vegetarian Cookbook (included in our Bean Bundle), Steve Sando and Julia Newberry map out how to prepare beans more by feel rather than exact measurements. He also has a good recipe for charro beans, which is similar to the one I’m sharing with you today, but since, like I like to say, I’m from Texas, I’m going to share with you how we do them around here.
To start, I put 1 bag of Rancho Gordo Pintos in a big pot, and covered with about 6 inches of water. Again, you want a lot of liquid on these beans, and I leave the lid off most of the time they’re simmering.
I then added:
- 2 coarsely chopped onion (I had yellow but to be honest, prefer white)
- 2 bay leaves (red bay harvested from my friend Dusty in the Kisatchie forest of Louisiana)
- a few whole, dried Pasilla & Guajillo chilis
- 2 jalapeños, chopped in half
- 10-15 dried wild chili piquines from my garden
- 8 or so crushed garlic cloves - coarse sea salt (I love to use celtic grey)
- a bunch of cumin
- handful of cilantro
Instead of cooking the beans first and then adding additional ingredients, as Steve describes in the book, I just add all this stuff at the beginning. My ingredients differ a bit from Steve’s but the gist is the same.
I also deviated from the vegetarian recipe… about an hour before beans were finished, I added some thickly cut bacon. I sauteed a handful of diced onion, and blistered some cherry and small pink tomatoes from my garden in the bacon fat. Then added those to the pot.
That’s the cue to pour 2 Negro Modelos into the pot. At this point, I put the lid back on, halfway, and let simmer for an hour or so. Turn the heat, let sit for about 20 minutes off the heat, then serve with a little fresh cilantro, and a wedge of lime. They are damn good!