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Entry from April 05, 2008
Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros; Frijoles a la Charra; Cowboy Beans)

“Charro beans” (also known in Spanish as frijoles charros and frijoles a la charra) are sometimes translated as “cowboy beans.” The dish comes from Guadalajara, Mexico and contains such ingredients as pinto or black beans, pork, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, serranos or jalapeños, and cilantro.
Charro beans have been served at Tex-Mex restaurants and Texas barbecues since at least the 1960s.
Wikipedia: Frijoles charros
Frijoles charros (charro beans) is a traditional Mexican dish. This recipe comes from Guadalajara and expands all over Mexico. The “charro beans” are made like normal beans, but with additional ingredients depending on the region. Some ingredients are bacon, serrano chili, red tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, ham, chunks of pork and chorizo. This is a (thermally) hot dish that is usually served to start or to complement the meal.
Recipe for Matt Martinez’s Charro Beans
The recipe, text, and photo below are reprinted with permission from Mex Tex—Traditional Tex-Mex Taste by Matt Martinez (2006 Bright Sky Press).
1 pound dried pinto or black beans
12 cups water, divided
6 ounces salt pork, sliced
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
4 to 6 whole fresh serranos or 2 to 3 jalapeños
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (loosely packed)
Makes 8 to 10 Servings
Sort and rinse beans. Place in a large pot; add 6 cups water. Soak overnight or for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Drain beans. Add 6 cups fresh water and the salt pork Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Then add tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic and salt. Cook until tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add water occasionally to keep the beans soupy.
Adjust salt if needed. Add cilantro at serving time. Hold on low heat. Remove whole peppers and use as a garnish, or break one in two and leave in the pot if you want spice.
For a special treat, add a whole zucchini squash with the tomatoes. You won’t believe the smoothness and flavor. When serving, break off a little piece for each serving.
For Drunk Beans:
Gradually add one Lone Star or lesser beer (at room temperature) while beans are cooking in place of some of the water.
Mexico Connect
Frijoles Charros: Cowboy Beans
A Norteño dish originating in Tamaulipas, this is the classic accompaniment to the grilled beef dishes of northern Mexico. It is an ideal make-ahead dish, especially good with barbeque, improving as the flavors come together. Although the initial cooking of the beans can be done in a pressure cooker, a slow-cooking pot, such as a clay casserole, should be employed once the other ingredients have been added.
2 lbs. pinto beans or frijol de mayo, washed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
8 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
2 sprigs epazote
1/2 lb. bacon, diced (chorizo or vegetarian chorizo may also be used)
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
6 serrano chiles, chopped
salt to taste (...)
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[Mexican Sp., a. Sp. charro rustic, country-like.] 
A Mexican cowboy, usu. dressed very decoratively. Also attrib.
1926 D. H. LAWRENCE Plumed Serp. xxv. 395 They rode about in resplendent charro dress.
1934 A. HUXLEY Beyond Mexique Bay 286 Four charros, magnificently hatted, armed and caparisoned.
Google Books
The Food and Drink of Mexico
by George C. Booth
Los Angeles, CA; Ward Ritchie Press
Pg. 49:
When the leisurely meat course is finished, the mozo clears the table and bears in a steaming bowl of frijoles a la charra, cowgirl style beans, brewed from the bayo gordo bean. The bayo gordo or fat bay is only fat in size, actually it is light in the bowl and in the stomach.
16 March 1967, Victoria (TX) Advocate, pg. 25?, cols. 1-2:
Frijoles Charros—frijoles soaked overnight in beer, then boiled as usual in water with a (Text cut off—ed.). The end result is delicious! It’s a method followed by the Charros of Monterey, Mexico, who are an important organization there.
28 September 1968, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, Showtime, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
Barbecued Lamb, Guacamole and Charro Beans.
(Jacarandas restaurant—ed.)
17 December 1975, Port Arthur (TX) News, “A touch of old Mexico found in La Iguana authentic foods,” pg. 30, col. 4:
...Frijoles a la Charra,...
Google Books
A Cook’s Tour of Mexico:
Authentic Recipes from the Country’s Best Open-Air Markets, City Fondas, and Home Kitchens
by Nancy Zaslavsky
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
Pg. 31:
Senora Lourdes Mendoza’s
Frijoles Charros de Guadalajara
Horsemen’s Beans with Bacon and Chorizo
CHARROS STILL RIDE WITH FUROR AROUND CONSERVATIVE GUADALAJARA. Dressed to kill in silver-studded regalia, they’re show-offs to appreciative fans who pack horsering bleachers on weekends to watch rope tricks and riding stunts. Old traditions run deep in Jalisco. These beans, which were once cooked over fires on the open range by cowboy chefs, now bubble away on innumerable stovetops throughout the region (by folks wearing fancy sombreros, one would guess).
Senora Mendoza’s soupy pink beans are made with huge amounts of onion and tomatoes, and are enlivened with chorizo and serrano chile. These delicious beans are so soupy they are served in separate bowls alongside main-course plates. Her"would-be-cowboy” grandsons, two adorable six-year-old twins, eat more beans in one sitting than you could possibly imagine, They would gladly eat their hands-down favorite dish, frijoles charros, every day.
Yield: 2 quarts
1 pound pink beans
3 bacon slices
1 large white onion, chopped
2 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed and sliced
8 ounces chorizo, removed from casings
3 tomatoes, toasted and peeled
salt to taste (...)
Google Groups:
From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Date: 1998/08/08
Subject: Re: Baracho Beans
> Roy Dunn wrote:
> >I may have spelled the name wrong, but here in south texas , there are a
> >number of Mexican Restaraunts and even some fast food establishments, like
> I don’t know about south Texas (never been there), but here in central
> Texas the “mexican” restaurants don’t serve real mexican food.
> I’ve never heard of “borracho beans”, maybe you mean “charro beans”?
Diana Kennedy has a recipe for “frijoles a la charra” from Nuevo Leon. Then she adds that they become “frijoles borrachos” when a small bottle of beer is added, Monterrey being a brewing center. Several restaurants here in central Texas add a little beer to their beans and call them “borracho.” Maybe not as complicated a recipe as the charra beans plus beer, but the thought is there.   
Google Groups:
From: Ellen Smith
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 15:11:41 -0800
Local: Wed, Jan 3 2001 7:11 pm
Subject: Frijoles Charros [recipe]
Named after the rough and tough Mexican cowboys this dish is the south of the border version of what USAians oftentimes call Ranch Beans.
Frijoles Charros
1 to 2 onions, minced
2 tablespoons lard
3 cups cooked pinto beans
4 to 6 slices bacon, minced
1 slice ham, diced (optional)
1/2 cup chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 16-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped
6 serrano chiles, minced, or to taste
1 tablespoon comino (cumin)
salt to taste
Add onions and lard to pinto beans and cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. in another skillet, fry bacon, ham and chorizo. Add to beans with tomatoes, chiles and spices. Heat
thoroughly.  Puts a lot of pizzazz into plain pinto beans.  Makes 5 to 6 cups.
Google Groups:
From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Agnes7777)
Date: 04 Jan 2001 16:37:48 GMT
Local: Thurs, Jan 4 2001 12:37 pm
Subject: Re: Frijoles Charros [recipe]
Here’s another recipe for Charro Beans that I found in Shayne Fischer’s “Wholly Frijoles!”:
Charro Beans
(Charro beans are served whole in their cooking juices)
1/2 pound pinto or pink beans
1/2 chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
6 cups water
1 jalapeno or anaheim chile pepper
1/2 pound lean cooked ham, cubed
1 cup salsa
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine beans, onion, garlic and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pot and let the beans simmer for about 2 hours or until tender.  Cut slits in the sides of the jalapeno pepper and add it and the other remaining ingredients to the beans.  Cook uncovered for another 20 minutes over low heat.
Google Groups:
From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Agnes7777)
Date: 04 Jan 2001 16:21:56 GMT
Local: Thurs, Jan 4 2001 12:21 pm
Subject: Re: You guys are crazy(was “charros"recipe)
>  Okay, time to clarify for all. Charros is a bean type soupy kind of
>thing. Don’t know if it’s called soup or beans by Mexicans. No, my
>spelling isn’t off. It can definitely be found in the State of Huasteca
>in Mexico. It contains onions and cilantro among other things. I was
>just hoping that somebody might have a traditional recipe. I can spell,
>this is a bilingual family (spanish/english). Anybody heard of this
I don’t know how “traditional” it is, (and I haven’t tried it) but I found a recipe for Charro beans here:
Another recipe for Charro (charra) beans that I have tried quite recently is this one (You can make it more soupy by pureeing some of the beans):
*  Exported from MasterCook *
Beans a la Charra
Recipe By   : Chevys & Rio Bravo Fresh Mex Cookbook
Serving Size : 8   Preparation Time 👎00
Categories   : Mexican/Spanish/Southwestern   Side Dishes Vegetables

Amount Measure     Ingredient—Preparation Method
3     cups       dried pinto beans
3     quarts     water
6     slices     bacon—uncooked, chopped
1/2 cup       diced onion
1     tablespoon   chopped garlic
1/2   jalapeno—stemmed, seeded—and chopped
1     tablespoon   chile powder
2     teaspoons   ground cumin
1     tablespoon   salt
In a stockpot, soak the beans overnight in the water (to cover).  The next day, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the chile powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute more.  Add 1 cup of the soaking water from the beans while stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen all the brown bits adhered to the pan.  Add the beans and remaining water, and bring to a rapid boil.  Decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are soft.  When the beans are cooked through, add the salt, and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.  Keep warm until ready to serve, or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Makes 8 cups.
NOTES : “These ‘cowboy beans’ have been on our menu right from the start. They’re tender pintos, simmered with bacon and jalapenos, and they cook up nice and soupy.  In fact, you can even serve them as soup by pureeing some of the beans and stirring them back in.”
The above recipe also makes great frijoles.  Saute some onion in a bit of lard til tender and add some of the leftover beans.  Mash about half, and cook til thick.  Totally yummers.
Google Groups:
From: “Steve & Susie Wright”
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 14:20:34 GMT
Local: Wed, Jan 24 2001 10:20 am
Subject: Re: KC -vs- Texas
In KC they cut the brisket thinner, serve sweet smoked beans, french fries and pickles.  In Texas you get thick cut brisket, cowboy or charro beans (pinto beans in loose hot pot liquor), potato salad or creamed spinach, raw onion rings, jalapeno peppers.  The ribs in Texas are beef, sometimes pork. KC ribs are pork.  Sauce in KC tends to be sweeter.
Google Groups:
From: “beejay”

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 02:33:14 GMT
Local: Wed, Sep 26 2001 10:33 pm
Subject: Re: Charro Beans?
1 lb uncooked, dried pinto beans
8 cups water
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 can (14 1/2 oz) tomatoes, undrained
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp ground cumin
fresh oregano for garnish
1 cup beer
2 limes
Sort beans. Place beans in bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. Discard water. Place beans in large pot and add 8 cups water. Simmer partially covered for 1 hour. Cook bacon until crisp. Add bacon and 2 Tbsps of the drippings to beans. Chop tomatoes and add to beans. Add onions, garlic, chilies, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Simmer partially covered for three hours, or until beans are tender. Turn off heat and add beer. Season with salt to taste. Garnish with fresh oregano and lime wedges.
Google Books
Canyon Ranch Cooks
by Barry Correia, Scott Uehlein, and the Kitchen Staff of Canyon Ranch
Emmaus, PA: Rodale
Pg. 111:
Charro Beans
Charro means “cowboy” in Spanish, and this dish uses the typical seasonings and the favorite bean of the Southwest and of northern Mexico, the pinto.
1/3 cup diced onions
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/4 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup Vegetable Stock
Pinch ground oregano
3 tablespoons canned green chiles, diced
1/3 cup diced tomato
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (...)
The Tex-Mex Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
Pg. 26:
In the days of the vaqueros, a pot of beans was often all there was for breakfast. Adding a little bacon and chile made plain beans into a delicious meal.
1 teaspoon lard or vegetable oil
4 slices bacon, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapeno or serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups Frijoles and bean broth (page 25)
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil and fry the bacon and onion together in a skillet over high heat until the onion is golden. Add the chiles and garlic and continue cooking for a minute more, until the chiles are softened. Stir the cooked mixture into a soup pot or crockpot containing the frijoles. (Include the bacon grease, if desired.) Add the salt and cumin and simmer for 10 minutes or more to combine the flavors. Serve in a bowl, garnished with cilantro.
Google Books
Culinary Mexico:
Authentic Recipes and Traditions
by Daniel Hoyer and Marty Snortum
Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith
Pg. 53:
FRIJOLES CHARROS OR “COWBOY BEANS” are served throughout Mexico. This version comes from the highlands around Guadalajara, the home of the original “charros,” consummate horsemen and lasso artists who wear the formal clothing and large hats associated with Mariachi. My first taste of this rustic dish was on the island of Cozumel in Quintana Roo where it is made with chorizo, chunks of pork, and slices of salchicha ( a hot dog-type meat that resembles Vienna sausage). This makes a great side dish, a main dish for lunch with tortillas, or a light supper along with your favorite tacos. (Recipe follows—ed.))
Google Books
Christmas Means Tamales: As Did Every Weekend When I Was a Kid
by Arthur D. Sandoval
Pg. 97:
Some people call them “Charro beans” or cowboy beans. To us they have always been Frijoles de la olla or beans from the pot. 
The Texas Cowboy Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
Pg. 88:
Charro Beans
(Mexican Bean Soup)
This ranch-style bean soup is a traditional first course in northern Mexico. Charro is another word for cowboy in Spanish.
1 teaspoon lard or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 slices bacon, minced
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 jalapeño, minced
1/2 pound ham, diced
6 cups cooked Cowboy Beans and 4 cups bean broth (page 63)
1 tablespoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bacon, celery, and carrots and fry until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the jalapeño and ham and cook for another minute.
Put the beans and broth in a soup pot. Using a submersion mixer or potato masher, break up some of the beans to create a thick, chunky-textured soup. Add the cooked bacon mixture (including some or all of the bacon grease) and stir well. Add the salt, mexican oregano, and cumin. Cook the soup for another 10 minutes to blend flavors, adding more water if needed. Serve hot.
Texas BBQ Forum: Doneraki’s Charro Beans
Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:07 am
This recipe originally come from Smoking Stace and was posted on another forum by my old pal Harry Jones from Rayne, LA (formerly from Channelview).
Doneraki’s Charro Beans
1 pound dried pinto beans
6 to 7 strips bacon; chopped
1 clove garlic; chopped, to taste
4 medium tomatoes; chopped
2 medium onions; chopped
1 medium green bell pepper; chopped
salt; to taste
1/2 bunch cilantro (fresh); chopped
1 bottle (12 ounce) beer
jalapeno peppers; chopped , to taste
Rinse and pick over beans. Boil in a large pot of water until tender, but still firm, about 1 1/2 hours (no need to soak them beforehand). A half hour before beans are done, heat bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, tomatoes, onions and bell pepper and continue cooking until bacon is crisp. Stir bacon mixture into beans and season with salt. Before serving, stir in cilantro. Mixture should be soupy, but beans should not be mushy. Some cooks like to add a 12-ounce beer (such as Tecate) and seeded, chopped jalapenos with the bacon mixture.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Saturday, April 05, 2008 • Permalink

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