Smoky Desert Beans

February 5, 2015
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Author Notes: Smoky, porky Pintos and a soft egg. Herby greens, pink pickles, salty cheese. Warm tortilla for scooping. Iconic pork and bean bowl dragged through a garden in New Mexico. Ideal meal, all hours, all seasons. Bless these beans. MS

Serves: 6-8

New Mexican Pinto beans, table salt, cold water

  • 1 pound dried Pinto beans
  • 3 tablespoons table salt
  • 4 quarts cold water
  1. Using a large bowl or container, dissolve salt in cold water.
  2. Add beans. Stir. Let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

onion, smoked paprika, cumin, ham hock, green herbs (cilantro, parsley, epazote, green onion), pickled red onions or shallots, cojita or feta cheese.

  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) smoked paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) cumin
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • chopped green herbs (parsley, cilantro, epazote, green onion)
  • pickled onions or shallots
  • cojita, feta or other white, dry, salty cheese
  • flour tortilla for serving, warmed
  • 1 dried pequin (or other small, red chile) pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 275-300 (depending on how hot your oven runs). Place a large dutch oven on the stovetop and heat olive oil over medium.
  2. Dice one large, yellow or white onion. Add to the heated oil and let cook until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the brined beans.
  4. Add drained beans, smoked paprika, cumin, dried pequin and black pepper to pot. Nestle the ham hock in the center of the pot. Add water to cover generously.
  5. Seal tightly with lid and place in the oven for 2-3 hours until beans are tender. Check after 1 hour, adding more liquid if necessary. The key is to maintain the level of liquid, which creates the smoky broth at the end. These are soupy beans.
  6. When beans are tender and soupy, remove ham hock and add salt to taste. Let hock cool and then pick all meat from the bone. Add picked meat back into the pot of beans.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls and top with soft boiled egg, chopped green herbs, pickled onions, cotija. Serve with a warmed, flour tortilla.

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