by Kriston Capps
Homesick Texan had this homesick Texpatriate longing for an important native comfort food with this post on pintos back in November. I’ve cooked a couple batches since. Pictured is one way to serve them, in what I like to think of as a humble burrito: It’s just pintos with shredded queso blanco, cilantro, onion, and some hot sauce. (That’s not IFA–recommended Uncle Brutha’s hot sauce, but you get the drift.) Perfect for the mid-day break or the late-night drunkfast.
I like pintos best in a big bowl, topped with chow-chow and served with cornbread. Chow-chow, for the uninitiated, is a relish, kind of (but that deserves a separate post).
My own recipe for pintos hews pretty closely to Homesick TX’s, but I take a few liberties that I might not were I cooking back at home. Here’s that recipe, good for a big batch that will serve your group house for days.
One or 2 lbs of dry pinto beans
A handful of ancho peppers or 2 small cans chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Fatty, thick-cut bacon
Gephardt chili powder
Sort the beans. Set them to soak in a large pot: Cover the beans with an inch or so of water. Throw in the ham hock. Add the peppers; if using the chipotle in adobo sauce, add the sauce/don’t drain. (If you don’t have ready access to fresh dried anchos, I’d go with the canned peppers.) Soak overnight.
Now, many recipes will ask you to drain and rinse the beans before you cook. The ostensible benefit here is that they’ll be less gassy, but this is a myth, and anyway that never happens to any of us. The very real drawback to draining and rinsing is washing away good flavor and a good deal of nutrients.
So! Pick out the peppers and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a hard simmer for about an hour. If you haven’t soaked the beans for a full 18 hours, you may need to fully boil for longer so they are not al dente. Last, remove the ham hock. They’re ready when they taste soft and good.
To make frijoles a la charra, add the bacon, onions, garlic, japs, and cilantro. Prepare to your style: Cook them fully in a separate pan and add, cook fully and blend them into a puree and add, chop them and toss them into the pot to cook like a chili. Any way you decide will be delicious and various occasions will call for a variety of textures. Simmer ingredients together for a half hour or so.
To make pintos barrachos, add a bottle or two of Negro Modelo (let’s say one for each pound of beans, up to three bottles) and cook the alcohol off. Any lager except Miller Lite will do.
Ladel into bowl, spoon over generous amounts of chow-chow or relish, and serve. For leftovers (good in humble burritos), add just a bit of water or beer and cook to a simmer, cook up some of the leftover bacon, and serve on a tortilla with cilantro etc.