Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Frijoles de Olla (Pot Beans)

I've given this recipe out two (or three) times in the past 2 weeks so I figured I might as well just post it here for you guys to use if you want.

I got on a Mexican food kick after watching Anthony (I love you) Bourdain go to Mexico for a new episode of No Reservations. I love Mexican food, but have never felt confident about cooking it.

Sure, I make a few really good salsas and my guacamole is something I'm rather proud of (I make it in a molcajete, even). I can also throw together some good chicken, ground beef and tri tip tacos, taquitos, migas, and other miscellaneous Mexican fare, but I have never felt all that great about my beans recipe (well, at least without using manteca and that's not always the best option for those of us with 10 lbs of "baby weight" to lose and 10 more lbs of "happy relationship" weight to lose). And I absolutely fail at Mexican rice.

So I went on Amazon and got these 2 cookbooks:

Cocina de la Familia


A Gringo's Guide to Authentic Mexican

Now, I know you might be thinking "Why didn't you get Rick Bayless books? I've heard Rick Bayless is the master of Mexican recipes! Rick Bayless is great! Why not his books?"

I'll tell you why -- it's the same reason I don't read Harry Potter books -- I just hate jumping on bandwagons. I know it's ridiculous, but if too many people INSIST something is THE BEST, I feel compelled to avoid it.

It doesn't make any sense at all, I know. I guess I just don't trust the masses. Even you, Candice and Kyle.

The Gringo's guide is so-so and maybe for someone who didn't grow up eating Mexican food as I did.

Cocina de la Familia is really great and a fun read -- I made New Mexican red enchilada sauce using the recipe in there and it was amazing. Time consuming, but so amazing and so worth it.

But my favorite recipe so far (variations of which I found in both books) was for Frijoles de Olla, or Pot Beans.

I've made them twice in the past 2 weeks and I will never (okay maybe in a pinch) go back to using canned beans -- this recipe is that good. I just combined the 2 and came up with my own idea of what would be good, but the technique of lots of water and little seasonings was a theme in both books.

Yes, they take a long time. But during the time they are cooking your house is going to smell amazing. No, there's no pork products in them -- you are going to have to trust me that they are out of this world good. The flavor of the bean really comes through and that flavor is delicious, especially if you (like I) typically eat canned beans.

You will thank me. I promise.

Frijoles de Olla

1 16 oz. (I think - the regular size) bag beans (pinto or black)
1/2 white onion
1 smashed clove garlic
2 - 3 T. salt (I didn't measure, but trust me -- it needs a lot)
2 T. corn oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf (for black beans)
2 - 3 sprigs cilantro (for black beans)

Rinse and sort the beans to make sure there's no rocks or dirt still on them.

Cover with 8 cups of cold water in a large pot, add 1/2 white onion, salt, oil and cumin (and bay leaf if making black beans).

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce and simmer for 2 - 3 hours until tender. The time to cook will depend on the freshness of the beans (I've heard that the bins in the grocery store have the freshest beans, but I don't know that for sure).

The beans will be done when you are able to smash one against the roof of your mouth with your tongue.

If making black beans, add cilantro after the first hour of cooking.

If the water evaporates below 1" above the beans, add hot water to maintain that 1" level above the beans -- they should be soupy.

Serve in bowls topped with cotija cheese and pico de gallo. Heat up some corn tortillas on the side if you go that way (I do).

In about 3 days when you've had enough of eating the solid beans, get out your largest skillet, throw in 2 - 3 T. corn oil and saute the leftover beans and their liquid, mashing the beans with a potato masher until they are broken up and simmer until the liquid has evaporated to the texture of your pleasing.

Congratulations: You now have refried beans. Put on a plate, top with enchilado cheese and devour.

Let me know how they turn out.


Jeff said...

Holy God, this sounds good. I'm totally going to try it this weekend.

Do you have any ideas for tortillas? I always end up buying corn ones that taste like cardboard.

Also, how much fat do you think is in the pot style? The only fat should be from the oil, no?

Bless you,

Poodle said...

Yes! The only fat is from the LITTLE bit of oil! I mean, a bag of beans makes a LOT of beans. But we just eat them for the week ...

The BEST corn tortillas (imo) are the ones from Trader Joe's. They cost more, but they're dang good.

Otherwise, I just get the ones that smell freshest at the store. Yes, I smell them. :ashamed:

Jeff said...

i'm kind of embarrassed by how excited i am by all this bean-action. currently, i eat a can of "trader joe's organic pinto beans" for lunch each day. those are super-tasty (and a steal at $0.99), but this recipe sounds drool-worthy.

i'll def give the TJ's tortillas a try...do you just nuke them or do you heat them in the oven?

also, i'm picturing you at the end ringer of the supermarket deep-sniffing tortillas. high-larious.

good work on your blog, you've earned "cool kid" status over at 1LS. rad, huh?

Poodle said...

HOORAY! All my dreams have come true! hehe

I heat them up on my gas stove: get your metal tongs (please tell me you have some? If not, a careful flipping with fingers works, too).

Just put gas stovetop burner over med-high, slap tortilla directly on burner, heat on one side until you smell it, flip and heat that side until you smell it and then take off and devour.

It's HEAVEN!!!!

Otherwise, you can also do the same thing in a nonstick pan, but I like the smokiness the fire imparts.

I LOVE BEANS, TOO!!! I am telling you -- you'll never go back to canned after trying them! The flavor is outstanding.

Jocelyn said...

guess what! I already make these! In the crock pot. I use a diced jalepeno and 1/2 of the liquid chicken stock (broth for me :) TRY IT!