Friday, April 17, 2015

Charro Beans

When we lived in Idaho Falls, one of my favorite things to do was to meet up with a friend for lunch at Garcia's, have lunch and knit while we chatted and caught up with each other. Just good old fashioned girl time. Their gluten free menu is a bit sparse, but my favorite thing on it was the Charro Beans. Best. Thing. Ever. My favorite way to eat them was to have them start with a bowl of beans and then top them with shredded chicken, tomatoes, black olives, cheese, and avocado. Not only was it delicious, but it made for a thick & hearty lunch.  Since moving to Wisconsin, we've found a couple of Mexican restaurants that we really like, but I hadn't found any fabulous Charro Beans. So I took to the internet, asked friends on Facebook, search Pinterest and recipe sites. I couldn't find a recipe that seemed quite the combination I was looking for, so I did what any adventurous cook would do, I made up my own!  The results were fabulous and an instant hit with both me and my teen daughter. 

1 lb. dried pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes or about 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes*
1 onion, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
½ lb. bacon, cut into pieces**
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 ½ quarts chicken broth***

     Rinse beans and soak overnight. 
-       Drain and rinse beans. Fill pot (or crockpot) with beans and water about an   inch over the top of the beans.
-      Cook for a couple of hours over low to medium low heat until beans start to get tender.
-      Drain beans and set aside.
-      In same pan (if using stove top & not crockpot), cook bacon until crisp. Save about 2 TB of the drippings.
-      Add onion and garlic to pan with bacon and drippings and sauté until slightly tender.
-     Add the diced tomatoes, jalapeno, and chicken broth to the pan and then add the beans back in. Cook over low heat until tender.
-     The longer you cook them, the more the broth will cook down and thicken.

*I was out of regular diced tomatoes when I made these & substituted a can of Rotel Tomatoes instead.

**I hate soggy bacon in recipes. Bacon is meant to be crisp. When I cook bacon, I save the drippings in a jar in my fridge. I didn’t use bacon when I made these, only a couple of tablespoons of the bacon fat I had in the fridge.

***Because we’re so short on space, I rarely have chicken broth on hand. Instead I used water with Better than Bouillon Chicken Base.  

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