Borracho Beans

Borracho Beans

Nothing is quite more a Southwestern staple than a flavorful pot of beans, and this Mexican dish of borracho beans works well as a side for any meal.

Can a pot of slow-simmered beans qualify as a soup or stew in the classic sense? No matter, as these and similar variations of slow-cooked beans are ubiquitous in Mexican kitchens and throughout the Southwestern U.S. Based on a dish of charro beans (frijoles charros, or “cowboy beans”), this recipe earns its borracho (“drunken”) title from the inclusion of a bottle of beer.

The style of beer used here is somewhat important as you want to flavor the beans along with the bacon and chiles without making them taste of the beer itself. Avoid otherwise strong-flavored beers such as India pale ale (IPA) as the bitterness will dominate, or likewise very dark beers such as stouts that will turn the broth malty and roasty—and by all means, no “light,” low-calorie or non-alcoholic swill. A standard Mexican lager or amber ale suits this combination perfectly.

Other than the cerveza, the only essentials here are the bacon, jalapeño and time, and the particular spice blend can be adjusted as per personal tastes. A long, low and patient simmer will cook the beans perfectly and extract all the necessary flavors, and this recipe is ideal to quickly prepare and forget all day in a slow cooker. Do not add salt until the cooking is finished as this can make the beans tough before they cook through.

This dish accompanies any Mexican food or barbecue very well, served with warm corn tortillas and butter. With a quick cornbread and a large empty bowl, it can also make a substantial meal on its own.

Borracho Beans

1 lb pinto beans (dried)
12-oz bottle of beer (lager)
4 slices of bacon
2 cloves of garlic
½ yellow onion
1 jalapeño
14.5-oz can of tomatoes (diced)
1 T chili powder
½ t cumin (ground)
black pepper

1 Bring 4 c water plus the beer to a boil over high heat.

2 Chop the onion, bacon and jalapeño, and mince the garlic. Add to the pot along with the tomatoes, beans and dry spices (except salt).

3 Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, over very low heat for at least 3 hrs or until the beans are tender.

4 Finish with chopped cilantro, and season to taste.


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