Beans are one of my favorite foods. I have enjoyed them cooked many ways such as: Cuban style Black Beans and Rice, Cajun style Red Beans and Rice, Texas BBQ Beans, Boston Baked Beans, and Mexican Charro Beans. I first tasted this Mexican classic dish at the granddaddy of Houston Tex-Mex restaurants ‘Felix Mexican Restaurant’. ‘Felix’ was located in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston for 60 years, first opening in 1937. I worked right around the corner for a few years tending bar and would often eat here before my shift started. I got to know the owners quite well and they always greeted me with a smile and a nod. I believe I had Charro Beans with every meal (which means once a week). These beans are completely different from the sweet tasting Boston Baked Beans I grew up on as Charro beans are robust and earthy due to the Cumin, Peppers, and Chili Powder. I was reminiscing about my years in Houston the other day and the taste of Charro Beans came flooding back. Funny, food always seems to be a huge part of my life when it comes to fond memories. As I was reflecting on Houston, Tex-Mex food, particularly Charro Beans, I thought about turning the recipe I have of authentic Mexican Charro Beans into a Vegan dish. Traditional Mexican Charro Beans have either pork, bacon, chorizo, or beef in them and are cooked with lard. Some families in different regions of Mexico will use all four types of meat and add beer. A slow-cooker or Dutch oven are the two most common ways to cook the beans. I typically use all four meats, the beer, lard, and a Dutch oven. I used a slow-cooker once, just once. Dutch oven is the way to go!! In creating a healthier version, I eliminated the meats, beer, and lard. I used the same spices, swapped out the jalapeno pepper with poblano peppers (stronger flavor), and used my own chili powder (I have one ounce bags available for sale). Since I did not use any meats or lard, I used some veggie broth for added flavor. I kicked the dish up with freshly made Pico de Gallo and my homemade yogurt. If you are using an Instant Pot, you do not have to pre-soak the pinto beans. There is no need. If using a slow cooker or Dutch oven, you need to pre-soak the pinto beans over night. I used an Instant Pot as I was jonezing hardcore. I had no pre-soaked beans so I improvised.
- 1 Yellow Onion, diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 3 Poblano Peppers, seeded and diced
- ¼ Cup Chili Powder – I make my own from left over hot sauce pulp
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 – 15 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
- 2 Cups Veggie Broth
- 2 lbs. Dry Pinto Beans
- Boiling Water, to fill line (about 5 to 6 cups or so)
- Fresh Plain Yogurt, to serve (can use Sour Cream)
- Pico de Gallo, to serve
- Tortilla Chips, to serve
Add all of the ingredients to a 6-quart Instant Pot or pressure cooker. After adding boiling water to the fill line, stir well. Set to high pressure for 52 minutes with a 60 minute natural release for soft beans. This means once the time has ended, I let my beans sit for one hour. Then I open the lid. For al dente beans, set to high pressure for 45 minutes with a 15 minute natural release.
Top with fresh yogurt, pico, and enjoy with tortilla chips to really take it up a notch.
Mexican Charro Beans truly are the Next Level of Greatness!! 🙂