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You’ll discover there are a variety of ways Mexican cooks prepare frijoles/beans. They are a staple in my household and one of the best ways I like to prepare them are with bacon or salted pork, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and a pinch of cumin. Some folks call these Charro Beans. I learned how to make them this way from good ol’ mama, but she wouldn’t add cumin powder. Wasn’t a big fan of it so that’s why my recipe just has a pinch of it.

On Sunday afternoons, I’ll make a large olla of pinto beans for dinner with enough for the rest of the week. Freeze half the batch for later. The leftovers taste even better when served in the morning with chilaquiles and a fried egg on top or alongside dinner’s grilled rib eye steak. By mid-week, I’ll be adding chorizo to the frijoles or gobs of jack cheese to refry them in pork lard to make burritos.

Frijoles charros are named after the traditional Mexican horsemen or “charros.” Parts of the Southwest have adopted the name and created something called “Cowboy Beans.” Other common ingredients for Frijoles Charros include chili peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, ham, sausage, pork and chorizo. It is served warm, and is usually of a soupy consistency.

Unlike the gringo versions of Cowboy Beans, the Mexican recipes and versions are quite different. For starters we don’t use ketchup or barbecue sauces — at least I’ve never seen that in the Mexican charro beans I’ve eaten.

When they are fresh out of the olla (heavy stock pot), I will make myself a bowl and sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro and diced jalapeños and perhaps some queso fresco, warm up a soft flour tortilla and go to town. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is! What are you waiting for? Try this recipe and let us know what you think.

Frijoles Charros 1

Prep time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour for soaking
Cooking time: 3 hr 10 minutes

4 cups dried pinto beans, washed
6 slices thick bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, including the liquid
5 jalapeños, stemmed, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

1. Wash the beans and allow to soak for about an hour. Strain the beans and put into a large, heavy stock pot. Fill the stock pot with water to cover beans by about 2 inches. Place the beans to cook over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid simmer.

Charra mixture - LatinoFoodie

2. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for about 4 minutes. Add the onions and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes with the liquid, jalapeños, cumin powder and chicken bouillon cubes, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the bacon mixture to the pot of beans and reduce heat to medium-low once it is at a rapid simmer, and cook uncovered for about 1 hour. Some of the water will evaporate.

4. Add about 1-2 more cups of water to the pot, just enough to cover the beans by about 1 inch. Covered the pot and continue to cook on medium-low heat for another 2 hours until the beans are soft and creamy. Check every 30 minutes to make sure the beans have enough liquid to cook in.

5. Add salt to taste. When ready to serve, stir in the chopped cilantro.

Frijoles with Chile Colorado

Follow the link to get the recipe for the Beef Chile Colorado pictured above. Enjoy!

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  1. Stephen Chavez

    Thank you for all your sweet comments.

  2. First, you De man.
    Second. At the end, how much liquid should remain?
    Also, any storage tips? Should be room temp b4 fridge?.
    Last, you De man!

    • Stephen Chavez

      Hi Sid – I would have about a half inch of water above the frijole mixture. Be sure to bring to room temperature before refrigerating in an air tight container. ENJOY! And, no, YOU DE MAN!!! LOL! — Stephen

  3. I cooked up a pot of these a few weeks ago and they flat out rock!!
    My wife and I also used leftovers for breakfast adding sausage with them and filling flour tortillas.
    Thanks for the awesomeness!!!!
    By the way…….Chile Colorado this weekend!!!!

    • It warms our hearts that you and your wife enjoyed the recipe. Send us a pic if you’d like us to share it.

  4. I’ve made your Chili Colorado a few times and absolutely love it! My parents lived in San Antonio before I was born and always talk about missing the food. We’re doing a belated Father’s Day this weekend since my dad was out of town on the actual day and I made your chili Colorado and charro beans. I can’t wait to serve it. I’ll definitely share a photo once it’s plated! (It’s still in the pot.) Thanks!!

    • Stephen Chavez

      You don’t know how much we love to hear these stories!

  5. Made these yesterday for a road trip to visit my father in Mexico for Christmas. I couldn’t stop eating them today! My boyfriend who doesn’t like pinto beans, really liked these; Yeah! I added a couple of tablespoons (2) of butter to the finished product as my grandma used to do that with her beans. You can’t really taste it, but it makes the beans a bit more creamy. DELICIOUS recipe, I’ll be making my beans a new way from now on!

    • Stephen Chavez

      This makes us so happy to hear. Thank you for sharing.

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