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Frijoles de Charro (Cowboy Beans)


Makes about 2kg

‘Frijoles de charros’ are typical in north México where pinto beans are grown. We have translated this bean dish into 'cowboy beans' which doesn't really do justice to the horsemen of northern Mexico called charros, who wear traditional dress and a large hat. Serve this dish as a side to meat or fish. It is also delicious in a bowl with a poached egg on top, for a brunch dish, served with tortillas or toast on the side. Any leftovers can be made into refry.


Pick over the beans, rinse and place them in a large bowl, covering them with plenty of cold water. Soak them overnight to ensure even cooking.

Drain the beans and place them in a pot with 2 litres of cold water. Add the onion, Chile de Arbol, bay leaves and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and leave the lid ajar. Cook for approx 2 hours or until soft and the water around the beans is thickened slightly with some of the beans that have broken up. This bean 'gravy' is really important for flavour and texture.

While the beans are simmering, prepare the onion, by peeling and slicing into 5mm strips. Prepare the chillies by also cutting them into 5mm strips, remove the seeds if you wish.  To prepare the tomatoes, with roast under a hot grill until black on all sides or make a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes and place into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so until the skin is easy to remove. In either case, cut the tomato into chunks and place in a boil along with its juices.

In a hot frying pan, add the oil, when shimmering, add the onion and jalapeño strips, toss in the hot oil and cook until translucent with crisp, brown edges but still holding their shape, then add the tomatoes. Stir and allow to heat through. Reserve.

 When the beans are soft and giving and the 'gravy' around them is clinging and tasty, add the reserved fry pan of cooked vegetables. Stir in and taste, add salt if necessary.  

Serving size:

approx 1/2 cup (150g) per person as a side or 1 cup (300g) as a bowl of beans

Pressure cooking:

Using a pressure cooker will greatly shorten the cooking time. It is recommended to soak the beans as they will hold their shape better and cook more evenly. Reduce the cooking water to 1.5 litres, cook on high pressure for 15 minutes, with a natural release


Place 2 cups of the cooked beans with vegetables and the smoked paprika in a  jug suitable for a stick blender and blend until smooth. Heat the 3 tbsp of oil in a frying pan, when hot add the bean mash. Stir and fry until all the oil is absorbed. Turn out onto a plate, sprinkle over some crumbly cheese (ricotta salata if you can get hold of it) and serve with tacos or as a warm dip with corn chips.


Beans will keep in the fridge covered for about 3 days. They also freeze well. Always reheat beans thoroughly, stirring to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom of your pan.