Tuesday, October 21, 2008


One of my earliest and fondest childhood food memories involves setting at my grandma's kitchen table and watching her sort beans. Early in the morning, she would spill a dusty bag of Pinto's out onto the kitchen table, swishing and strewing, like a Las Vegas card dealer, picking out the pebbles, looking for imperfections, making sure each bean was clean.

Once a week this ritual took place in Grandma's kitchen as beans were a staple back then. And I was in awe. To take this dry, hard, pebble, and turn it into something tender and delicious seemed magical to me. And what's more magical than beans? Grandma took the simplest of foods, the lowly legume, and raised it to a new level.

My kids were never wild about beans until I found this recipe in a 'Southern Living' magazine years ago. Now we eat them all the time. This recipe reminds me of the beans we used to get as a side dish at El Chico's. They go great with chicken enchilada's or with a big slice of jalapeno cornbread.

I highly recommend Rancho Gordo beans here as they are the freshest and best I have found.

Mexican Pinto Beans

1 cup dried pinto beans
3 cups chicken broth
Enough water to finish covering beans.
3 bacon slices, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Sort and wash beans; allow to soak in water overnight. Or cover with water 2 inches above beans, and bring to a boil. Boil beans 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat, and let soak 1 hour. Drain.

Bring beans, broth, and remaining ingredients to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2-3 hours until tender.

I used the crock pot for this recipe and doubled the amounts and they turned out great.


Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Michelle, I dying to try those beans but haven't found them yet, but I'm sure I will. You've inspired me to pull my crockpot out and start using it!

Michelle said...

I have to order Rancho Gordo beans online at www.ranchogordo.com as they are based in Napa. Rather expensive, compared to the grocery store brands, but a nice change for something special. Also, I thought the measurements for this recipe were a little strange (1 cup of dried beans?) so, I usually wind up dumping an entire bag of beans into the crock pot and doubling the amounts of cumin, salt, chili powder, etc. ... My family always enjoys them.

Kevin said...

That looks good. I still haven't tried working with dried beans, just the canned variety. I am going to have to try them to compare.

Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by. Dried beans always taste fresher to me - and are so economical. I enjoy cooking and eating all varieties, even lentils. Give 'em a try. You won't be sorry.

Mae Travels said...

That sounds good. Coincidence: I just posted a spicy cornbread recipe on maefood.blogspot.com!

Chris said...

Mae -
I'm always up for a good conrbread recipe. I visited your blog and will definitely give it a try. Glad you stopped by!

Michelle said...

Mae -
Thanks for stopping by. It sounds like your cornbread recipe and my beans were made for each other.