Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pinto Beans

The Story

Beans, particularly pinto beans, have a significant role in the Latin American culinary heritage.  It’s also a nutrient dense food source that is often overlooked these days.  My beans are not completely vegetarian, I do love the flavor that an all-beef chorizo sausage adds to beans.  I also prefer to use my crockpot for this dish, you just can’t beat low and slow and I also like the way the aroma fills the kitchen and house.  As for uses, I generally breakdown my cooked beans into 4 separate containers that can be frozen for later use.  I use them as a side dish and I also use them in my breakfast tacos in place of a meat (usually bacon).  


  • 1lb. bag of dried pinto beans
  • 1lb. all-beef chorizo (removed from casing and crumbled)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 whole chipotle pepper

Making it Happen

Begin by spreading the dried beans out on a counter and inspecting them closely.  Small bits of rocks and dirt can make for a nasty treat if undetected.  In a large bowl, soak the beans with plenty of water overnight. 

In a sauté pan, crumble the chorizo and brown the sausage over medium heat.  Chorizo does have a significant amount of fat, so expect to see quite a bit of fat rendering in the pan.  You also want to keep the heat relatively low, the grease from the sausage will have a tendency to pop if the heat is too high.  Once the sausage is browned, remove the sausage to a bowl, reserving the rendered fat in the bottom of the pan.  While the pan is still hot, add the diced onion to the rendered fat and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.  Once the onions are soft, add the minced garlic and stir together until fragrant.  Last, stir in the bell pepper and add the sausage back to the pan, just to combine.

To cook the beans, strain the beans and put them in your crockpot.  Add your chorizo mixture, spices, bay leaves, whole chipotle pepper and beef broth.  Cook the beans on the lowest, slowest setting (8-10 hours). 

Prior to serving, remove the bay leaves and the chipotle pepper and discard.  Take about 2-3 cups of the cooked beans from the crockpot and blend them in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Last, stir the blended beans back into the crockpot.  So, why bother with this last step of pureeing some of the beans?  Blending some of the beans will release more starch into the cooking liquid.  This step is the difference between watery, greasy beans and soft, velvety flavorful beans. 

Serve these either as a main course over cooked rice, as a side to tex-mex or barbeque or on taco.  Awesome stuff, enjoy!

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