Wednesday, August 31, 2011

El charro pinto beans

By Konrad "Teddy Bear" Haskins

My basic pinto bean recipe is very simple. Beans, cumin, garlic, onion and chili with a little left over meat and finish seasoning.

Most recipe books go for a clean, simple and sterile recipe which leaves a whole story untold. For this recipe I like a whole small to medium yellow or red onion. Sweet onions (Walla Walla, Vidalia, Texas 1015 and Mayan sweet) are so mild. I up-size to a large if I'm using a sweet onion.

Mild chili powder works but I prefer using a whole Ancho (mild) pepper cut in two. You want to cooking the pepper halves with the beans and then when done, scrape the flesh of the pepper from the skin and discard the skin stirring the flesh back in.

Granulated garlic works in a pinch but I prefer a quarter to half a head of garlic. Whack the cloves with the side of a chef's knife. This crushes them, releasing flavor and makes peeling much easier. No flailing needed; just put the flat side of the knife over the clove and push down with the palm of your hand.

You'll save a ton of money if you buy whole cumin seeds and whole Ancho chili peppers in the Mexican or the bulk spice isle. Those little glass or plastic jars in the regular spice section can be ten times more expensive. New Mexico and California chilies can be substituted for Ancho.

I use two cups of pinto beans to eight cups of water. If you soak the beans and cumin seeds overnight they will cook faster. As BBQ is not that fast I usually just start with dry beans. With a large pit I put my Dutch oven of beans under some beef or pork to catch the drippings. Leftover beef or pork juice and meat works just fine. Throw some leftover BBQ in the freezer to make you next bean pot very happy.

I don't add salt until right at the end. I normal use about a tablespoon of BBQ rub right at the end as a finishing seasoning. If using straight kosher salt, I'd use a teaspoon or less. Use salt or rub, not both. If you don't have left over BBQ for the special flavor boost then use up to a cup of spaghetti sauce, added a half hour before the beans are done cooking.

How long? Well it's BBQ; so it's done when it's done. At 250 degrees F to 275 degrees for around four hours in a Dutch Oven with a good fitting lid. Allow around two hours if you pre-soaked the beans and cumin seeds overnight in the same eight cups of water you're going to cook them in. While it's okay to soak in an aluminum Dutch oven, I wouldn't soak in a cast iron Dutch oven. For cast iron do the overnight soak in a plastic or stainless steel container.


This article was first published in the August 2011 edition of The BBQ Institute® Newsletter. Click on to receive the free newsletter each month. Konrad is an award-winning barbecue pitmaster and instructor. He is based out of Texas.

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