When I think about simple Texas food there is one thing that always comes to mind first Pinto Beans. Oh how I love Pinto Beans!
There are many times on my drive home from a long days work I crave a big bowl of these spicy beans served with a little fresh grated sharp cheddar cheese and my favorite hot sauce. It is the perfect filling meal and always gives me the energy I need to get through another long day.
I spice up my beans with my favorite Mexican spices, Jalapenos, Onions, a few strips of bacon, and of course garlic. The beans can take a little time just because I prefer to soak my beans in cold water all-day or overnight but the end result is always worth the effort.
Mel’s Spiced up Pinto Beans
1lb Bag of Dried Pinto Beans, sorted
3 Strips of Bacon or 1 ham hock
1 Large Onion (sliced in half)
2 Large Jalapeño (sliced in half)
4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1 Tablespoon of Chili powder
½ Tablespoon of Chipotle Chili Powder
¾ Tablespoon of Cumin
½ Tablespoon of Garlic Powder
½ Tablespoon of Onion Powder
½ Tablespoon of Mexican Oregano
½ Tablespoon of Smoked Paprika
1 Tablespoon of Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
Sort through and rinse the dried beans looking for any small pebbles and picking out any beans that are shriveled or discolored. Then place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with 6 cups of cold water. Let the beans soak for a minimum of 6 hours on the countertop or overnight in the refrigerator.
In a large pot bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add your bacon, onion, jalapeños, garlic, and all of the spices EXCEPT THE SALT. Strain and rinse the soaked beans then add them to the seasoned boiling water. Put the lid on and leaving it slightly ajar and reduce the heat to low. Let the beans cook for 1 hour checking every 15 minutes to see if more water needs to be added and giving them an occasional stir. Make sure the beans are always covered with water.
After the first hour of cooking then add your salt and any more water needed. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove the onion halves and the jalapeno halves and discard. Serve in a big bowl, topped with cheese, hot sauce, and tortilla chips.
Now that you know how to make Pinto Beans let’s turn them into my most favorite Mexican Side dish… Refried Beans.
Tex-Mex Refried Beans
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Strips of Bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 batch of “Mel’s Spice up Pinto Beans”, drained. Reserve the liquid.
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Over a large bowl, strain out all the pinto beans from the juice and reserve the juice.
Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add in the vegetable oil and bacon. Cook the bacon until crisp then remove from the pan. Add the strained pinto beans to the hot cast iron skillet along with 2 cups of the spiced bean juice. Mash up all the beans with a potato masher adding more liquid to reach desired consistency, I usually add about 1 to 1 ½ more cups of liquid. Continue to stir the beans until they thicken and all the liquid has disappeared. Taste for seasoning. I always add a little extra black pepper.
Serve with your favorite Enchiladas or Tacos with Tex-Mex Rice.