Adapted from Food & Wine (July 2010)
We don't typically adapt the recipes we pull from our magazines, because we like to cook them as-is and then tell you how they turned out.
Sure, we add things now and again, like more spice here, or extra herbs there. But for the most part, we enjoy cooking the recipe that's given.
But this time, we did a little tinkering.
When we were looking for an accompaniment for Fig-Glazed Burgers with Red Onion Jam, we immediately thought of these Charro Beans -- or Cowboy Beans -- that we had seen featured in Food & Wine.
The recipe calls for pinto beans, but the photo in the magazine showed that they'd used black-eyed peas instead. We opted for that, because we loved the idea of a black-eyed pea spin on something akin to baked beans.
What we didn't love is how the recipe turned out. So we started tinkering even more.
Other than substituting black-eyed peas for pinto beans, we cooked these beans exactly as instructed in the magazine.
But after two hours of cooking, the beans were not shaping up to look like those featured in the mag. They were bland and watery. How the magazine got that red tint to their beans (pictured below), we have no idea.
So we decided to add some molasses and mustard and cook the beans an additional hour. The addition of these two ingredients definitely took these beans closer to baked beans than charro beans, and the additional hour of cooking allowed the beans to break down more and the flavors to meld together better.
How did our tinkering turn out? We absolutely loved these beans! And so did our guests. Smoky from bacon and slightly sweet from molasses, these beans had a real depth of flavor! And the black-eyed peas added a nice twist that pintos would have lacked.
So maybe these aren't true charro beans. Maybe the charros wouldn't even recognize them. But, hey, we won't tell them.
(This photo: Food & Wine)
• ACTIVE: 20 MIN
• TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS
• SERVINGS: 10
• 4 cans black-eyed peas, rinsed
• 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 pound thickly sliced bacon, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
• 16 garlic cloves, peeled
• 3 large jalapeños—halved, stemmed and seeded
• 1 tablespoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 2 large bay leaves
• 3 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
• Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup molasses
1. Drain and rinse the beans and place them in a pot. Add the broth, bacon, garlic, jalapeños, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for one hour.
2. Discard the jalapeños and bay leaves. Pick out and mash the garlic cloves, then stir them back into the beans. Stir in the molasses; continue cooking for 1 hour more. Season the beans with salt and pepper. Serve.
The charro beans can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.