MEXICAN STYLE PINTO BEANS(makes almost one gallon of beans—serves about 15) 6 c. ¼-1/2 lb. 1 medium ½ 1 ½ c. 1 Tb. 1 tsp. 1 tsp. 5.

7 3-5 quarts 1/3 bunch 1 large ½ can Dried Pinto Beans, washed well with cool water Raw Bacon (frozen, sliced, and/or coarsely chopped) Tomato, very ripe and quartered, or coarsely chopped One small can of tomato sauce (OR omit tomato & sauce and use 1 can of Rotelle tomatoes for more spice) Onion, coarsely chopped Salt, or Garlic Salt Garlic Powder Ground Black Pepper Garlic Cloves, peeled and halved Water Cilantro, washed, stems cut/discarded, and remainder chopped (optional) Whole Serrano Pepper, washed/stem removed (optional-FOR SPICY BEANS) Budweiser Beer (optional-to your taste) (FOR “FRIJOLES BORACHOS”)

In large 4-6 quart pot, sort through beans removing/discarding all split or halved beans, different bean types, or disformed/rotten beans. Then “swish” dried beans around in cool water several times (use a colander to drain each washing) until water stays clean/rinses clear. If time permits, allow clean beans to soak (covered) in full pot of water OVERNIGHT. The next day, drain water. Rinse/wash, then drain beans; repeat twice. Cook beans in fresh water, following directions below. Soaking the beans overnight will shorten your cooking time. Fill pot with beans and about 3 quarts of water. Beans must remain completely covered by water level throughout cooking time! Add bacon, chopped tomato and sauce, chopped onion, Serrano pepper (optional) and spices to pot (do not add cilantro or beer til the end). Allow beans/water to come to a full boil on med-hi heat. Cover pot and keep beans boiling for 2-4 hours on low-med heat, checking water level AND stirring intermittently. ALWAYS keep water level above bean level. When adding water, make sure you add HOT water to your beans. Adding cold water will cause your beans to crack and split. Feel free to stir your pot often to make sure beans are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. After the first hour of boiling, be sure to taste your broth for correct seasoning and adjust as needed. As you add more water, you may have to add more salt and/or garlic powder to your “broth” to make sure your beans are not bland tasting. The longer your beans cook, the thicker and darker the water or broth will become. Your beans are “done” cooking when a cool bean may be easily mashed with your fingertips. About 15 minutes before you turn off the stove, stir in chopped cilantro to your pot. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let sit 20 minutes so flavors can marry before serving.

Stir and serve hot beans with broth in a bowl, top w/shredded cheese, and accompany with corn bread or warmed tortillas. Also serve beans as a side dish to other Mexican entrees. Store cooked beans covered in Tupperware in your refrigerator up to 2 weeks, or freeze some to reheat at a later date. You can reheat beans by spooning the desired amount into a cooking pot and heating until hot. You can also microwave a small bowl (2-3 cups) for about 2-3 minutes or so before eating. NOTE: You can also cook just the beans in water. About 1 hour before beans are “done,” fry bacon. Then add all other ingredients to bacon (no beer), cooking to combine. THEN add bacon mixture to your pot of beans to simmer 30-60 minutes together. This will give your beans a different flavor altogether even though the same ingredients are used. For “Frijoles Borachos” (Drunken Beans), add half to one full can of Beer thirty minutes or so before your beans are done cooking. You may choose to omit the cilantro if adding beer. Your beans will tend to spoil quicker when adding the beer and/or cilantro to your recipe (good for about 1 week in fridge). YUMMY!! If the beans are boiling when you add the beer, most of the alcohol will evaporate but you’ll still get that great “boracho” flavor. For “Refried Beans”, simply mash your cooked, drained beans with a “potato” masher or process them in a food processor. Add bean broth to processed beans to keep them moist or to thin them out if they’re too thick. Warm up mashed beans in a skillet before serving. Traditionally, the mashed beans were “fried” in lard before being served, hence, the incorrectly (since beans are boiled, not fried when first cooked) translated term “refried beans.” Making refried beans is a great way to use up (process) a large batch of beans quickly. Refried beans are also used when making “Chalupas” (Cha-loo-pahs), also known as Tostadas. Using a frying pan, place about ½” inch of cooking oil in the pan and fry both sides of a corn tortilla in hot oil until it is flat and crisp/stiff. When the tortilla is stiff, place it onto a plate lined with a paper towel to allow excess oil to drain off of the tortilla and let cool. Smear some hot refried beans over the top of the tortilla and then add your favorite toppings: grated cheese, chopped lettuce/tomatoes/onions, chopped black olives, chopped cilantro, sour cream, and/or salsa (also known as “chilito” or hot sauce), jalapenos, etc. You can store cold, leftover fried tortillas in a ziplock bag in your fridge up to one week and just warm them up in the microwave for 15-30 seconds when you’re ready to make your next batch of “chalupas,” Enjoy!! Margarita A. Diaz-Thomas

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