Friday, February 6, 2015

Santa Maria-Style Pinto Beans

Versions of these beans are usually an accompaniment to Santa Maria Tri-Tip (which I've made several times before but have yet to take pictures of - someday!).

This particular recipe leaves out the tomato element which is popular (almost standard, really) in most other recipes. I can't say that I really miss it because when I make this dish, I make a salsa or pico of some sort for the meat and that balances out the need for tomato in the beans in my opinion.

Regardless, these beans are FANTASTIC. It doesn't matter if you are trying to follow the strict tradition of Santa Maria barbecue as these go with any grilled meat wonderfully.

If you're wanting for a different twist on refried beans for a Latin American dish or traditional baked beans for pulled pork or barbecued chicken, these will definitely do the trick.

Santa Maria-Style Pinto Beans
(from here)

8 ounces thick bacon, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (roughly 6-8 strips if you don't have a scale)
1 poblano or pasilla chile, seeded, de-ribbed, and diced (you can leave the ribs for some more heat)
1 medium Spanish onion, diced (I used half a very large yellow onion and it worked fine)
2 cans pinto beans, drained, rinsed and drained again (or if you go the dry route use 8 oz of dry pinto beans, cooked and drained to give you 3 cups of cooked beans)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


This recipe comes together pretty quickly if your beans are cooked already. 

I actually almost always use dry beans because I have a pressure cooker and it's really easy to make beans with it and I don't know why, but I do think they taste batter than the canned version.

I will submit that using canned beans is much easier, so use what you have!


That being said, get your 8 oz of diced bacon in a COLD small/medium pot over medium heat. 

I always add a splash of water to my bacon in order to distribute the heat evenly. 

While that renders down (it'll take around 20 minutes) gather the remainder of your short list of ingredients.

Poblano/pasilla, seeded and diced

Pinto beans, 2 cans, rinsed (or 3 cups cooked beans)

I've used Spanish onions in the past but I didn't have one on hand. I used half a really big yellow onion and it turned out great. Just use what you have!

Regular dice

When your bacon is nice an frothy it's very close to done.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon of some sort, leaving the rendered fat in the pot. 

Dry on a couple of paper towels. 

Add the onion and chile to the bacon fat, still over medium heat.

Always season with a shake or two of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Give it a good stir to lubricate everything.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

I actually like these broken down a bit so you can push it to 10 minutes. Just give it a taste and see if the texture is nice and soft. If it's al dente, give it a couple more minutes.

When your veggies are broken down to your liking, add the beans.

Go ahead and add the bacon back in, too.

Give everything a solid stir and season with more salt and pepper. 

Let this cook over medium/low heat until the beans are nice and heated through and the flavors marry a bit, maybe 10 more minutes. Give it a stir every few minutes to make sure the beans don't stick on the bottom. 


These beans are the business. 

Smokey, creamy and salty with the onions adding a nice sweet element. They are like the best version of traditional frijoles you can get. Every ingredient works in tandem with the rest to produce a really nice side dish for any Latin inspired or grilled meal.


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