With a cooking surface several times larger than a Weber kettle, a wood pellet-fired smoker is seeing lots of use at my house.
Mentioned in a previous post, my husband’s new Rec-Tec is proving its versatility, even as a pizza oven. Not only can we cook several components of a single meal at once, but we’ve been cooking additional meats — whole chickens, sausages, etc. — for the coming week in one shot.
A classic side dish with so many smoked and grilled meats, baked beans have factored into some of our recent feasts. Beginning with whole, dried beans, soaked overnight is ideal.
That’s how we started some white beans that later simmered in homemade lamb stock and got a flavor boost from tomatoes, brown sugar, hot sauce and fresh herbs. I put the brakes on adding bacon, considering that we already had tri-tip on the smoker.
But pork fat no doubt will show up as the outdoor cooking season heats up. And when meat on the smoker is destined for tacos, tostadas or other Latin dishes, these subtly smoky charro beans would complement the main course and could cook right alongside it. If using canned beans, they’re ready in about 35 minutes.
Cowboy Charro Beans
6 slices bacon, chopped
8 ounces fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped, or more to taste
1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added, chopped tomatoes or 1/2 pound fresh Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
3 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or about 5 cups cooked pinto beans and their cooking liquid)
Kosher salt, if needed
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Tortillas, warmed, for serving
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until lightly browned and starting to crisp, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chorizo; cook, breaking up sausage into smaller pieces, until it starts to brown and crisp, for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the onion and jalapeno; mix well. Cook until they begin to soften, for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes; cook, stirring, until tomatoes begin to break down and ingredients come together, for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the beans; mix well and reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, until beans are moist but not soupy, for 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth or water if needed. Taste and add more salt to taste. Serve in bowls, topped with the cilantro and accompanied by the warmed tortillas.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe adapted by the Chicago Tribune from the website of Pati Jinich, www.patismexicantable.com.