I don’t know about you, but there are certain people that I have on speed email. They’re my daily “check-in” and it’s reassuring to know that if one of is still MIA by say, 11 AM, it’s possible search and rescue will be called. Those people for me are Lettuce and Yam, and these emails can be from deep meaning-of-life conversation to the banal “what’s for lunch today?” Food is very often a daily topic and today’s went on to discuss the “rank” of certain starchy sides at mealtime.
It started because Yam commented on how she had couscous for dinner last night.
I replied that I’d probably sub quinoa for the couscous.
Lettuce then made the bold-though-somewhat-controversial statement that quinoa did nothing for her and that she never eats it.
I replied saying that I’d obviously rather have bread, but use quinoa as a filler rather than couscous.
Lettuce then said that sometimes she craves rice over all of the above.
I stated that despite growing up in a household where rice made a daily appearance on our kitchen table, I rarely make it, and certainly never crave it.
And so it goes.
Believe it or not, the above conversation made what I felt like was the perfect segue to introducing another starchy side dish that I like more than all of the aforementioned, and actually do crave.
I love beans. No doubt I’ve said before that I love them so much I can eat them out of can with a spoon like I’m stuck in the woods in survival mode. Despite my legume love, I don’t often do anything to really jazz them up. I use them for salad toppings and in soups and chilis, but it’s pretty rare that beans are the star of my dinner show. But not today. Today, these beans shine. And do they shine brightly.
These beans have beer. And bacon. God’s foods.
Frijoles Borrachos. Mexican drunken beans.
I’ve been sort of hard-pressed to find the origin of this tasty dish, but the consensus is that it’s served through Mexico. Like rice in much of Asia, beans are a staple at any table, and the type varies depending on which region you find yourself: pinto in the north, black in the south. Despite regional differences, consistencies do remain: pork fat, peppers, beer. Not opposed to any of that, so thumbs up all around. This was one of those dishes that I had to keep re-plating for pictures because I kept eating it in between takes. #ChrissyProblems.
Traditionally cooked low and slow, I took a page out of Gimme Some Oven’s book and just used can. Done in 30. Yes, please.
*A note about the beer: This is traditionally made using a dark Mexican beer. Having only made it to 1 of my usual 4 grocery stores, I couldn’t find it, but used instead a lighter Mexican-style cervesa made in the Chicago ‘burbs. Tasted just fine to me, but I’d say for authenticity’s sake, use a dark one if you can.
- 2 pieces (uncooked) bacon, diced (I used a maple smoked)
- 1 small white onion, finely diced
- 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 ounces bottle Mexican-style beer
- 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 TB dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 lime, juiced
- ¼ fresh cilantro, chopped
- Cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until crispy, stirring occasionally. Push to the side of the pan. Leave about 1 tsp of the bacon grease, and drain off the rest.
- Add the onion and jalapeno, and saute for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the beer, beans, brown sugar, oregano, chili powder, paprika, salt and cumin, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the beans reach a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low, and continue simmering uncovered for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced. Add the lime juice, fold in the cilantro and adjust seasonings to taste.