Sunday, 15 July 2012

Drunken Pintos with Cilantro and Bacon (Frijoles Borrachos)

Rick Bayless has given me a whole new appreciation for beans this year, I've loved exploring Mexican cuisine with our cooking club and have come to love beans as a side or even as part of a main.

These drunken pintos are perfect to go along with a BBQ or pulled pork meal. Leftovers are great with eggs in the morning. And the fact that there is both tequila and bacon in them? Brilliant! Exciting! Delicious!

Seriously, eat more beans. Start with these.

Drunken Pintos 
with Cilantro and Bacon 
(Frijoles Borrachos)

Recipe from: Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless
online recipe source: Cookbook Heaven at

I love to serve a cup of beans at a barbecue. The smoke and fire and the ripeness of the air seem the right accompaniment to beans, especially beans with tequila and cilantro.

Other than the alcoholic baptism these beans receive just before serving, they are similar to frijoles charros, the brothy beans (half soup, half accompaniment) so beloved in Mexico's North and indispensable at a meal of wood-grilled tacos al carbon. This version is my take on a recipe shared with me by the well-known cooking authority Maria Dolores Torres Yzabal of Mexico City. It's a loose combination of her recipe and my favorite version of charro beans. I like the interplay between the tequila, green chile, bacon and cilantro
. -RB

Makes: 4 cups
Servings: 4 to 6 as a side dish

    8 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) dry pinto beans

    1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) cubed pork shoulder (or extra chopped bacon, if you wish)

    4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

    1 small white onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

    Hot fresh green chile to taste (roughly 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed, seeded and sliced

    Salt, about 3/4 teaspoon

    1 1/2 tablespoons tequila (plus a little more if you like)

    1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

    The beans. Rinse the beans thoroughly and scoop into a medium-size (4-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican earthenware olla). Add 5 cups water, remove any beans that float, then add the pork shoulder (or extra chopped bacon) 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 a generous 1/2 inch above the level of the beans.

    The flavorings. In a medium-size skillet, fry the bacon (that is, the remaining bacon if you used some for the simmering), stirring regularly, until crisp, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon, leaving behind as much of the drippings as possible. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the drippings and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion and chiles and fry until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Scrape the onion mixture into the beans, then taste and season it all with salt. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

    Finishing the dish. If the beans seem quite soupy, boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the consistency of a nice, brothy bean soup. (An alternative here is to puree 1/4 of the beans in a food processor or blender, returning them to the pot to thicken the broth.)

    Just before serving, stir in the tequila and cilantro, then serve in warm bowls topped with the crumbled bacon.

    The beans can be cooked through step 2 several days ahead; refrigerate, covered.

    Two 16-ounce cans of pinto beans can replace the beans in step 1.

    A more rustic touch yet is to simmer the beans with a 2- to 3-ounce piece of beef jerky (cook it with the beans, then take it out, tear it into short shreds and return to the pot) instead of the pork. To make this more like the frijoles charros, replace the serrano with 2 roasted, peeled and diced poblanos and add 8 ounces of chopped tomatoes (roasted and peeled, preferably). As with most bean dishes, use any bean you like or can find easily.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC