Pintos Barrachos and Humble Burritos

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
Ham hock
A handful of ancho peppers or 2 small cans chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Fatty, thick-cut bacon
Gephardt chili powder
Negro Modelo

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.


7 responses to “Pintos Barrachos and Humble Burritos

  1. mmmm . . . pintos. A comfort food for those of us of Tennessean stock as well. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. I’ll also add that the crockpot was MADE for beans. No soaking, I swear. Just put them in the crockpot with a hamhock (or, if you’re maybe wanting to go with a little less fat, but why, a smoked turkey thigh) in the morning before you leave the house, and when you get home they are ready for whatever you want to do or add. I have to ask, though — did you really mean to suggest that beans should be soaked WITH the hamhock, et al.? This would be news to me, and scary news at that.

  3. They should be soaked with a smoked ham hock. That is, precooked. I’ll amend the recipe to make that clear. I buy the ham hock at the grocery store with the other stuff—not from the butcher.

  4. I usually use smoked hamhocks as well — and am still not sure I’d soak the hock with the beans. But as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger . . .

  5. Ham-o-phobes who aren’t vegan can get a darned good result using smoked turkey leg or thigh instead of hamhocks.

  6. Cardinal Fang

    A pressure cooker is a wonderful thing for people who cook beans often but aren’t good at planning. Twenty minutes and they’re done.

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