If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that Mexican food is my most favorite food on earth. I love the vibrant colors, authentic flavors, and bold spices of nearly every dish I’ve ever had. In the Mexican culture, food is an important part of their identity, symbolizing the significance of family and tradition.
As a vegan, beans are a staple in my diet. As a fan of Mexican cuisine, bean recipes are varied and plentiful! Black beans, pinto beans, fried or refried, served in soups, stews, tostadas, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, dips, molletes (think bruschetta), tetelas (stuffed masa cakes), tamales, nachos the list honestly goes on and on. There is no shortage of delicious, flavorful recipes.
So, when my friend Kathy asked me if I had a recipe for Charros (Mexican Cowboy beans), I jumped to it! The traditional dish comprises pinto beans stewed with onion, garlic, and bacon. We will use vegan chorizo, and our bacon is smoky breadcrumbs. I love this recipe so much!
The key to making good beans is often a slow and gentle process. Cooking beans too fast can mean they are not cooked evenly and can be a bit chewy instead of creamy. Herbs and spices can be added at any cooking stage, and I like to give my beans a good salting while they are soaking.
Here are a few more tips:
- Buy fresh beans. I cannot stress this enough. Old beans in the pantry or from a dusty old store shelf should be avoided at all costs. Old, dried beans are less flavorful and become tougher. It’s hard to get that soft creaminess you want. Trust me on this. Beans that have been around for too long will be cracked, chipped, and can even be split open.
- Add herbs and spices at any time but be sure to add some at the end of cooking. Herbs/spices added too early can lose flavor during their long cook time.
- Adding acids (lemon/lime juice, vinegar) to your beans is fantastic! It brightens the flavors of your dish, but just be sure to add it at the end, as acids can prevent beans from becoming tender.
- Simmer your beans. With about 2-3” covering them, bring beans to a boil. Reduce heat and over. You want a slow, steady simmer and then cover them. The gentler the cooking, the better the beans will cook evenly and hold their shape. Cook them too fast, and they can burst out of their skins! Patience is key.
- Add fat. I cannot stress this point enough. Fat adds depth, compliments other dishes’ flavors, and makes your beans super creamy!
I always finish my beans with a drizzle of olive oil in the bowl before serving! As always, let me know how you like them, and tag me!Print
- 1 pound dried fresh pinto beans (@ 2 cups)
- 8 cups cold water
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 poblano chili pepper, diced
- 1 large Roma tomato, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo, minced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 8oz package of vegan chorizo
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons bacon flavored oil (vegan), or olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Clean and soak beans overnight (add 1 teaspoon of salt to water)*
- The next day, remove any additional debris from the beans.
- Add beans to a large dutch oven with 8 cups water and salt. Bring beans to a boil and reduce heat. You do not want a rapid boil.***
- Skim any foam from the top of the beans. **
- Cook beans for approximately 2.5 hours on low. Taste for tenderness around the 2-hour mark.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat in the last 15 minutes of bean cook time.
- When the oil shimmers, add onions and peppers. Saute until onion begins to soften and turn opaque about 7-8 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant about 30 seconds. Add spices (except cilantro) and stir well.
- Add diced tomatoes and chipotle pepper. Add chorizo and cook until browned. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. If the ingredients begin to stick, add 2 tablespoons of stock or water and deglaze. Taste for seasoning.
- Taste beans for doneness. Add tomato/pepper mixture to the beans if they are almost ready. Stir well to incorporate. Top beans with 1/3 cup of olive oil or other rendered fat.
- Add cilantro and cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes.
- While the beans are in the final cooking stage, pulse breadcrumbs in a blender or food processor. Do not over-process. You want medium size bread crumbs.
- Add 2 tablespoons of bacon-flavored oil (or olive oil and liquid smoke) in a small skillet, and when oil is shimmering, add breadcrumbs. Cook over medium heat until bread crumbs have browned. About 4 minutes. Do not let them burn.
- When beans are done, taste for seasoning. They may need more salt. Remove the strings of cilantro.
- Add beans to a bowl and top with bread crumbs and minced cilantro to serve. I drizzled with a little bit more olive oil to finish.
*Add to a colander to rinse, then add to a pot and fill with water. Pick out any rocks or beans that are broken. Much of the debris should float.
**This is referred to as “scum.” The scum has some amino acids and impurities, which could include toxins.
***Slowly cooked beans equal tender, creamy, and evenly cooked beans.
Keywords: Mexican beans, charros, bean dish