Protein-packed charro beans extend meaty bits

Purchasing bacon ends, instead of strips, is my preferred method for saving money while improving certain dishes.

Bacon ends, as I mentioned in my most recent podcast, are suited to dishes in which bacon is chopped into chunks, known as lardons in classical French cuisine. Dicing raw bacon, of course, allows the fat to render more easily and produces uniform pieces that you can’t obtain from frying strips of bacon and chopping it after the fact. But why purchase perfectly sliced bacon just to hack it to bits when bacon ends can be had at half the price?

Cooks can’t expect consistency from bacon ends, of course, but that what makes them more affordable and more interesting texturally. The leftover trimmings from slicing pork bellies, bacon ends certainly are random, with some meaty hunks, bits of pure fat, even a bit of pork skin. I use them in soups and stews, pasta and quiche and atop salads dressed with warm vinaigrette mixed up in the drippings.

These traditional, Mexican-style beans would be another fitting repository for bacon ends. Charro beans also boast chorizo, the ground type made from glands, not the dried Spanish-style sausage. This protein-packed dish, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, makes a simple lunch or dinner. Serve leftovers topped with an egg for breakfast.

Tribune News Service photo

Cowboy Charro Beans

Cook 6 slices of bacon, chopped, in a skillet over medium-high heat, until lightly browned and starting to crisp, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 8 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed; cook, breaking up sausage into smaller pieces, until browned and crisp, for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add 1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped, and 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped. Cook until softened, for 2 minutes.

Stir in 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes; cook, stirring, until they begin to break down, for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 3 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed. Cook, covered, over medium, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with warmed tortillas. Makes 4 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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