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Houston, TX
Just your atypical hispanic male living in the big city

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Charro Beans (Frijoles a la Charra)

Like with the Poblano Salsa,  I decided that I wanted to make a fresh batch of food for Cinco de Mayo. As with cooking regular pintos, Abuelita would also cook charro beans especially on for family gatherings or during the holidays. After cooking the beans, she would save them as my grandpa would just have them with his Carne Guisada or other dishes my grandmother would create in her kitchen.

Like most things I cook, I have a tendency of making a large batch. I guess it comes from how my grandmother used to cook. I do this most of the time when I have a large gathering, but have bookoos of leftovers to freeze. With charro beans, I love to have them with burritos or use the broth to add into some fresh spanish rice.

4 cups dry beans
8 cups water, for soaking
8 cups water, cooking
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp onion powder
3 roma tomatoes, diced
10 slices of bacon
3 large jalapeño peppers
2 bunches of cilantro
additional salt and pepper

Start by soaking the beans. I still truly believe what my grandmother says that its best to soak the beans the night before, the better they taste and the cook time is a lot less. Add the beans and water into a large pot. Have them soak overnight.
The following day, rinse out the beans. Make sure that you clean out of the dirt, etc. Place back into the pot and start to bring to a boil. Add the salt and pepper as you have the beans starting to boil. I find that the salt actually helps in the boiling process.

My grandmother used to say, "A pot of beans don't cook faster if you keep an eye on them." Well, grandma, you do have a point. Just check them on occasion as the beans continue to boil. Make sure you skim off the white foam from the boiling beans.


After 30 minutes that the beans have been cooking, dice the bacon. Make sure they are cut at least an inch. Drop the pieces into the pot. Allow to continue to cook continuing to stir on occasion. Now here's the thing about bacon, some people like to place bacon when the beans are first cooking. My grandmother always taught me that if you want to do that, you end up with bacon that might dissipate.

After adding the bacon, add the rest of the spices to the charro beans. Allow to cook for another 30 minutes, stirring on occasion.

Check the beans again. Do this by taking a small spoon and taste to see that the spices are mixing well with the beans. You are also checking for tenderness of the beans. If you soaked them the day before, they may already be done. If not, then you are looking at cooking those beans for another 2 hours. I hate to say that, but I have cooked plenty of pots of beans to know when beans are totally done. There's nothing like beans that are a little hard. NO BUENO.

After the beans are done, dice the tomato. Make sure you don't use the seeds of the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and cilantro to the beans. Also add the jalapeños. Cut only the top and place the whole jalapeños into the pot. Make sure if you don't want it too hot keep it whole. When it finally cooks, it will be a subtle taste nothing more. If you are a little more adventuresome, cut the jalapeños and leave them in the pot.

Allow the beans to set for another 20 to 30 minutes before you serve. You have a large pot that has some steaming beans. Don't worry. The beans will cook the jalapeños, tomatoes and cilantro.

With the large amount of beans I made, I am able to freeze them. Again, like most things that I cook, beans will keep well as long as you have it in a tightly sealed container. I have even made some refried beans with these same beans.

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