Mary’s Charro Beans

This recipe is a favorite and was inspired by a recipe at plus the cajun/creole technique of adding spices in stages as described by Paul Prudhomme. The instructions were improved on 2/14/2021 after Kelley struggled to follow what to us was very clear. But, we did not need to read this closely and once I did I understood her confusion.

  1. In a cast iron dutch oven, bring a meaty ham bone in water to a boil to make a ham-bone broth. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes.
  2. At the same time bring a separate pot of water to boiling. Once boiling hard add 1 pound of washed and sorted dried pinto beans. Bring the pot back to a boil then turn it off and let rest for 60-90 minutes to soak and extract the sugars. [Dropping the beans into the boiling water is important as that signals them to germinate and hence release the sugars.]
  3. Drain and rinse the beans. Add them to the ham-bone broth.
  4. Add 2 large yellow onions chopped into 3/4″ pieces; and four cloves of chopped garlic.
  5. In a CI skillet fry four strips of bacon until they are about to turn crispy. Add smoked jalapeno sausage to the bacon and a 4 count shake of course ground black pepper around the skillet. Cook all slowly until lightly brown.
  6. Chop the bacon and sausage. Add them and some or all of the frying oils to the beans and about one-third of the following seasoning:
    1. 1 rounded tablespoon dry oregano
    2. 1 rounded tablespoon smoked paprika
    3. 1 rounded teaspoon cumin
  7. Bring the pot to a boil then turn down to simmer for an hour.
  8. Add the second third of the seasoning and check a few beans to check they are becoming tender. Continue simmering for another hour.
  9. At the end of the second hour of simmering add the remaining seasoning and check a few beans to know how tender they have become and judge how much longer they need to simmer. Continue simmering until they are tender but do not simmer until they are mushy. Think al dente; “firm to the tooth”.
  10. Once the beans are tender let them rest until ready to eat.
  11. Remove what will be eaten and reheat if necessary. Add fresh veggies cited below as the beans are served. Quantities of the fresh veggies here are for the whole pound.
    1. 2 tomatoes, diced
    2. ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
    3. ½ onion, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
    4. 1 chipotle pepper from the can, chopped small, plus ~2T of the adobo sauce that is in the same can.
    5. 2 cloves garlic, diced
    6. jalapeno or serrano diced

Note: The idea of adding more spices late in the cook comes from Paul Prudhomme’s way with creole and cajun dishes where he adds the seasoning at three different times so some are well incorporated and those added later have some punch.

9/6/2020 – Being busy with things and not having the usual ham bone we made this a bit differently and it turned out great. Mary boiled two large pork butt bones (frozen) the day before. The next morning she removed the junky meat that boiled off. Separately put the pintos into boiling water then soaked to remove the sugars.

Added the drained beans, a whole onion, 4 toes of garlic, and black pepper to the bone broth and cooked until they were done–about 3 hours.

Then added:

  • The above spices
  • three small pieces of smoked tasso that just came off the smoker as part of our smoking two butts
  • three chipotle and sauce from a can
  • a chopped small poblano from the garden, and
  • half a yellow onion.
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