Nothing like a holiday to put you in the mood for specific food. Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and all I have to say is “Free-hole-lays!” Say it with me “Freeee-hole-laaays!” It even sounds festive. No one in my family is from Mexico, not even a remote strain, although I have family in Texas. Close enough for me, actually I don’t even need any reason to celebrate a holiday or event to celebrate the food associated with it. Really, here in the states, we don’t get “Mexican” food per se, but more of a TexMex, American version anyways.
Typical of most TexMex fare, Americans seem to think that every dish should come with a side of refried beans and spanish rice. I like to make my BF’s version of spanish rice but I love my frijoles refritos. I’ve been working on this recipe for awhile and have finally perfected it…at least for me. It makes a whole mess of beans, which is fine, I love leftovers. Sometimes I just serve it on the side, incorporate it into an enchilada casserole or better yet, make up some bean and cheese burritos and freeze them for later.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with me and make yourself some “Free-hole-lays!”
1 lbs dried pinto beans
2 bay leaves
12 oz salt pork
1 large onion
4-6 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano
Adobe seasoning or seasoning salt to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
Carefully pick through beans to make sure there aren’t any stones hidden in there.
In a large bowl, cover the beans with water, by about 2 inches.
Soak over night.
Like Jack in the Bean Stalk, your beans will grow (swell), see the difference.
Drain the beans.
Place in a large heavy pot and cover with water by 1 to 2 inches.
Add the salt pork and bay leaves, bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer uncovered 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
You could cook them in a crockpot over low for 6 – 8 hours also.
Meanwhile dice the onions.
Mince the garlic.
Chop the cilantro.
Why do I love a big cutting board?
So I can prep everything on one board and have less dishes, of course!
When the beans done, well, they just don’t look to appetizing yet.
To tell if they are done, take a bean out or 5 out and bite it with your teeth. They should be very tender.
Remove the salt pork to a cutting board and let cool.
Remove the bay leaves and discard.
Drain the beans, but keep the liquid, you’ll need that later.
Back in the pot they go. If you are bothered by a crusty pot, by all means get a clean, it’s okay, I’m not doing your dishes.
With a potato masher, mash up the beans and keep warm over low heat.
Dice up your salt pork. I cut the rind off and small dice the rest.
In a frying pan cook the begeezies out of the salt pork so they render all their fat.
Can someone do that to me…I could really use it!
With a slotted utensil, remove the salt pork and drain.
We are done with the salt pork, you can save it for other uses like feeding it to your dogs treats.
My dogs insist upon it!
Over medium heat, cook the onions in the left over rendered salty good fat.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Let’s get spicey…
Add the chili and cumin.
Then the oregano and cayenne.
Isn’t it purdy?
Stir and cook for another 30 seconds to let the flavors bloom.
I love the sound of that bloom…it is spring time…okay it’s spring everywhere but here.
Still, I’m ready for some bloomin!
Add the onion mixture, fat and all, to the mashed beans and stir.
Right now your beans will be thick and chunky.
Time for the bean water, add as much as you need to in order to get the consistencdy that you like.
Not to runny, not to thick.
Taste it, add some seasoning salt if needed.
At this point, if you want a smoother bean mixture, use an emersion blender.
I like it chunky, I want something to sink my teeth into.
Plate it up and top with cilantro and serve with whatever else you like, a corona, margarita…hey, it’s Cinco de Mayo, Celebrate!