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This recipe for “drunken” beans is yet another dish I grew up with that I’ve adapted to make my own over the years, and it’s one I love to serve year round. These rich, soupy beans are just as good with summertime barbecue as they are on a chilly evening with plenty of warm tortillas alongside. The beans hold beautifully in a crock pot for parties, and I think their flavor only improves over time. Pinto beans are easy to find and work well here, but you can use any smallish pink or red bean – we get beautiful dried heirloom beans at our farmers’ market, so I often use a variety called Vermont Cranberry beans in this dish. I call for canned pickled chiles in this recipe, but if you pickle your own, as I do, you can of course use those instead. —lastnightsdinner
- 1 pound dried Pinto or other small pink/red beans
- 6 cups water
- 4 ounces uncured slab bacon, cut into ¼ to ½ inch cubes
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano or dried marjoram
- 2-3 canned pickled whole Jalapeño or Serrano chiles, plus 2-3 tablespoons of the spicy brine
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 bottle amber or dark beer
- Kosher salt
- Juice of one lime, about 1 oz.
- Pick over the beans to remove any stones or debris, and place them in a large pot. Add 6 cups of cold tap water, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the beans stand, undrained, for an hour. (Note: the beans should be fairly tender at this point, though older beans may need more soaking time.)
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot, begin browning the bacon over medium heat. When the bacon is nicely browned on all sides and has rendered much of its fat, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened. Add the garlic cloves and oregano or marjoram, rubbing it between your palms to crumble it a bit, and cook until fragrant. Add the beans with their cooking liquid, then add the tomatoes, the beer, the chile(s) and the chile brine.
- Return the bacon to the pot and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring the beans up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, partially covered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally and tasting to adjust salt as needed. Stir in the lime juice just before serving, then ladle into bowls.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Beans
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