Pssst … I need to ask you a quick question: Is it charro beans “is” or charro beans “are“? Neither sounds correct, but I’m going with “is” in this post, as if I’m writing about charro beans as a singular dish. Cool? Okay, back to business :)
Charro beans, or “cowboy beans,” is a hearty Mexican soupy side dish, traditionally made with pinto beans, bacon, onion, garlic, jalapeños and cilantro. But there are endless variations. Some include tomatoes, cumin, chorizo, ground beef, ham, beer or even tequila!
My recipe is fairly traditional, with a few changes to fit our family.
First, because our kids freak out if food is too spicy, I add the jalapeños as a garnish instead of an ingredient.
Second, although I think cumin is drastically overused, I do like to add a pinch or two in this dish. As it should, the little sprinkle of cumin adds a deeper flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Third, I add a cup of chopped tomatoes with juice. I use the boxed POMI brand chopped tomatoes because I try to avoid canned foods when possible, but feel free to use canned (and if you do, try the fire-roasted for extra flavor).
Finally, inspired by the beans at Franklin BBQ, I like to add cooked ground bison or beef to the crockpot, which turns a little bowl of beans into a meal in itself!
Charro beans can be served as a main-course soup with rice, avocado, tortillas and cheese, or as a simple side dish with almost anything. When I lived in Mexico one summer, we ate them every morning with scrambled eggs, so do keep them in mind for breakfast, too.