I've finally found a Tex-Mex bean recipe our whole family enjoys. Yes, our kids will dive into a bit of the refried sort once in a while, but Joe...errr--NOPE! And those sweet campfire beans--NEVER for him. So, our beans of choice are the charros! They're the ones with a little broth.
My friend, Melissa (a Tex-Mex cooking goddess!), who hosted 20 girls and their mothers at her house for our Little Flowers camp this year, gave me a tip to make this dish easier, faster, and fat free. She adds Goya ham flavoring packets instead of bacon or a ham bone. Genius! This keeps all the fat out! But...the ham packets have MSG. Eeeek! The kids and I don't seem bothered by MSG, but it can trigger Joe's occular migraines...and it isn't all that great for anyone. So you can, instead, add some beef base (like I do).
Here's an easy recipe you don't have to pay attention to but a couple of times before it's done.
1 lb. bag dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed (or your preferred bean combo)
2 cans mild Ro-tel tomatoes
2 packets of Goya ham flavoring, or a TBSP of beef base with water as needed
Large onion, diced
Hot sauce or a diced jalapeño/serano pepper (Ro-tel gives enough kick for us)
1 pkg half-cooked, chopped bacon (optional)
Green pepper, diced (optional)
And if you wanna go all out...
A bottle of gluten-free beer (of course, optional)
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro, stems removed
shredded cheddar cheese
as alt. to bacon: favorite cooked sausage, halved & sliced
This is a busy-mom-friendly recipe. No need to soak these beans overnight. That would mean you've actually given some thought about your menu the day BEFORE you eat. Huh? That doesn't happen around here! I'm talkin' right around lunchtime (5-6 hours prior thought) is the earliest I think about dinner.
Put the rinsed beans into the crock, add enough water to cover the beans by a few inches. Cover and turn crock pot on high for a few hours.
NOTE: Don't add anything--especially salt--but water to the beans at this point or it'll make the beans tough...and y'all don't want that!
After 3 hours of cooking, add and stir in tomatoes and flavoring packets or beef base, diced onion, green pepper, bacon, beer.
Cook beans for at least 2-3 more hours (to desired doneness), adding water if the beans are peeping out. Beans go full immersion here. Remember, you want a little broth with the beans.
Be traditional and serve with some brisket, Spanish rice, and corn bread.
Be food pyramid savvy and serve with some chicken fajitas and a salad or fruit!
Be a real mom and serve it with whatever else you find in the fridge or pantry that seems like it would round out the meal!
Our usual: served over cooked rice and sausage...and heaped with toppings.