Charro beans are one of my favorite ways to prepare black or pinto beans. It reminds me of my childhood eating Santa Maria style barbecue in Central California. These flavorful beans always accompanied the BBQ tri-tip, ribs, and chicken that Santa Maria style is known for.
I don't remember them being called charro beans as a kid. They were really just called barbecue beans, but then I went to San Antonio on vacation as an adult and had a meal where these beans were served. The second I had a bite of them, my entire childhood came flashing back. You got to love it when some flavor or smell causes that.
Now that I knew the beans had a name, I experimented with a variety of recipes before finally perfecting it just the way I like it. Definitely give these a try.
- 4 14oz cans pinto or chili beans (or 1 pound dried beans cooked in 6 cups water and 1.5 tsp salt)
- 8 oz diced bacon (optional)
- Olive oil if needed
- 2 cups diced onions (1 medium size onion)
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp diced chipotle peppers with adobo sauce
- 2 10oz cans Rotel tomatoes (or sub one 14oz can diced tomatoes and one 4oz can diced green chiles)
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp chicken or vegetable bullion
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, red pepper flakes, or cayenne depending on desired heat level
- salt to taste (typically 1/4-1/2 tsp)
- 1/4 cup diced fresh diced cilantro (optional)
- If using dried beans, wash the beans. Then boil them in a stock pot with the water and salt. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook them for 3 hours. Alternatively, cook the beans in a pressure cooker for one hour.
- Drain the beans from your pot (or from the cans) and set aside.
- Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and cook the meat until it starts to brown and the fat is rendered. Add oil if necessary.
- Add the onions. Add more oil if necessary to cook the onions.
- Add Rotel tomatoes, garlic, chipotle peppers, and spices and cook until liquid is evaporated.
- Add water, bullion, and lime.
- Add drained beans.
- Once heated through, taste for salt level and adjust. Stir in fresh cilantro if desired and serve.
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