If you’ve ever experienced a good plate of enchiladas or some delicious brisket and ribs, there is a very good chance you had a tasty side of pinto beans to go with. Growing up in south Texas, one comes to understand what is expected of this side dish staple. I like bits of bacon with hints of cumin, garlic and paprika in the background. I want my bean juice on the thicker side, which usually comes the second day. And I want a little bite from just enough jalapeños. Obviously, you can adjust all the ingredients to appease your flavor meter, but here is how you make my version of the perfect pot of Texas beans. These go great with Mexican food and BBQ.
1 lb dry pinto beans
2 t. olive oil
4 bacon slices, cut into pieces
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cups chicken broth (or water)
(optional, sub out one cup beer for 1 cup water)
1/4 C. chopped cilantro
2–3 t. Turkish seasoning from Penzey’s
(If no Turkish seasoning, then use: 1 t. garlic powder, 1 t. cumin, 1/2 t. ground pepper,
1 t. paprika, 1 t. chili powder, 1 t. salt and cayenne pepper to taste)
Rinse beans and add to a large pot. Cover with water and soak beans for 8 hours or overnight to mitigate some of the digestive issues beans are notorious for. Drain beans and set aside. In a large pot, saute bacon, garlic and onion in 2 t. olive oil until bacon is cooked but not crispy. Add soaked beans and 5 cups chicken broth or fresh water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Continue to cook on the stove top for about 1-2 hours or until beans are tender. Check often to make sure beans don’t dry out and add broth or water as needed.
When beans are tender, add 2-3 teaspoons of Penzey’s Turkish seasoning or the alternate seasonings provided. Top with chopped cilantro and continue to cook on low heat for about 20-30 min more. Add salt to taste.
The bean broth gets thicker the next day and I like my beans this way. If you prefer a “soupier” broth, add more water and stir.
I came across Turkish seasoning about a year ago when I was huffing spices at Penzey’s in Maplewood, MO. The minute I smelled this blend, I was reminded of the Texas beans I’d been making for years. So now instead of mixing up all my spices, I just use a few teaspoons of this and the beans are perfectly seasoned.
1. Add chopped fresh jalapeño for spicy beans.
2. Add 1/4 cup Herdez salsa casera or Rotel to add a spicy, Tex-Mex flavor to the beans
3. If making borracho beans (drunken beans), sub a cup of beer for a cup of water. Gives beans a great flavor!
4. Blend leftovers in a blender and use as “refried beans” or to make Bean and Cheese tacos. Sooo gooooooooood!