Thursday’s Dish: Memorial Day Borracho Beans

With Memorial Day coming up, you may be hosting people or being hosted to a barbecue, fajita cookout or other meat-charring event. If so, and you find yourself in charge of a side dish, I have a recommendation for you: Borracho Beans. They go great with barbecue, fajitas, hot dogs, sandwiches, you name it. Plus, they’re CHEAP and EASY to make (time-consuming, but easy).

pinto beans
Creative Commons License photo credit: Joelk75

I prefer to cook them on the stovetop because they cook more evenly, but I transport them and serve them from a crockpot kept on Low. Note that this recipe starts the day before because of soaking time, but you can even start two or three days before and refrigerate the fully cooked beans, then reheat them – they’re even better! However, after three days, beans start to get their funk on, so don’t work too far ahead.

You can control the heat in these beans with what kind of Ro-Tel you use (mild, original or hot), plus whether or not you add jalapeños. I like to spice them up for adult enjoyment, then open a can of baked beans for the kiddos who are pepper intolerant. Some kids love them, though! Plus, you can teach them the beans song: “Beans, beans, the marvelous fruit. The more you eat them, the more you …” Well, you know how it goes. Here’s the recipe:

Borracho Beans
1 1/2 pounds dried pinto beans
1 white onion, cut into eighths
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth (or 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1/2 cup water)
1-2 cans Ro-TelAdvertisement1 1/2 cans or bottles beer, preferably Mexican (Dos Equis, Tecate or Negro Modelo, but not Corona!)
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
Salt, to taste (start with 1 teaspoon)
Juice from 1 lime
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Check pintos for dirt and small rocks, then wash in a strainer. Drain and put in a large bowl. Cover beans with cool water, 1 to 2 inches above top of beans. Let sit on countertop for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse beans, then soak again, at least 4 hours (one soaking could be overnight).

Drain and rinse beans, then put them in a large pot and cover with cool water. Start with heat on Low, slowly raising it over about a half-hour to bring beans to a gentle boil. During this time, add onion, bacon, jalapeños, garlic, broth, Ro-Tel and beer. Once beans are boiling, turn down to simmer, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After 1 hour, add cumin, chili powder, salt, lime juice and cilantro. Continue to simmer until beans are done, another hour or so. Stir and taste occasionally, add salt as needed. Serves a crowd!

Tips: Never add salt at the beginning of cooking or your beans will stay hard. If you have extra cilantro, sprinkle more on top when serving. For a little extra kick, and if you happen to have a can of pickled jalapeños around, add the juice from the can to the cooking liquid when you add the lime juice and spices. Make some nachos to use up the pickled jalapeños!

Written by: Shannon Oelrich

1 Comment on Thursday’s Dish: Memorial Day Borracho Beans

  1. you know, i have never been much into beans, but these sound amazing. i just had dinner, and yet, the sound of this recipe makes me hungry. i will miss memorial day celebrations this year…may have to go hunting for beans to make this and feel like i am having my own special memorial day.

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