Frijoles Borrachos A La Charra (Drunken Beans, Cowgirl-Style)


By Lucinda Hutson

MEAT OPTIONS: Handmade sausages produced with an assortment of meats, spices and flavorings, as well as bacon smoked with different kinds of wood or flavored with jalapeños, abound in grocery stores. Visit local farmers markets or butcheries for specialty products.

VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: When cooking the beans, use rich, concentrated vegetable stock instead of water. Many brands of vegetarian chorizo or sausage exist.

BEER: Twisted X Tex Mex Beers, made in Dripping Springs (I like the Fuego pilsner, flavored with jalapeños).

ACCOMPANIMENTS: Serve frijoles with bowls of freshly chopped tomatoes, serranos, cilantro, onions or your favorite salsa fresca, homemade tostada chips, crunchy chicharrónes (crispy, fried pork skin cracklings) or additional bacon crisps. Serve with a basket of warm corn or flour tortillas, or ladle over cornbread.


Frijoles Borrachos A La Charra (Drunken Beans, Cowgirl-Style)


For 8 Person(s)


  • For the frijoles:
  • 1 pounds pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 dried red chilies (see suggestions in text)
  • 1 12 oz. Mexican beer, room temperature
  • Salt, to taste
  • To finish:
  • 6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces chopped chorizo (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 serrano chilies, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • Generous splash of mezcal or tequila reposado

Frijoles Borrachos A La Charra (Drunken Beans, Cowgirl-Style) Directions

  1. Place the beans in an earthenware olla or other large pot.
  2. Add the cumin, oregano, garlic, chili peppers, beer and enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1½ hours—adding salt towards the end of cooking. (Tip: If using ham hocks, smoked pork shanks or a few slices of salt pork to flavor the beans, add them at the beginning of cooking. If using cooked sausage or other cooked meats, add them toward the end.)
  4. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a deep skillet until it’s slightly crisp and the fat is rendered.
  5. Add the chorizo (optional) and cook for about 4 minutes, until crumbled and browned.
  6. Drain some of the fat, if necessary, then add the onion, garlic and serranos and cook until softened.
  7. Add the tomatoes, oregano and salt and cook another 4 minutes or so.
  8. Add this mixture to the beans, along with a generous splash of mezcal or tequila, and simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.
  9. Serve with bowls of condiments at the table. (Note: For even more flavor, cook the frijoles the night before serving. Reheat the beans while you prepare the bacon/onion/tomato mixture, then add to the beans and simmer for 15 minutes.)

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