Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen
Season 3 in High Definition
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Primal Grill is filmed at Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico.
Episode: 211 :: UP IN SMOKE
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Serves: 8-10
Category: Vegetarian
1 pound (2 cups) dried pinto beans
1 medium onion, cut in half
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish the charros:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
3 strips bacon, cut crosswise into strips
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 to 4 jalapeno chilies, seeded and diced (for spicier charros leave the seeds in)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place of Origin : Texas

Texas-style brisket or ribs without charros is a little like a cowboy without a Stetson hat or Tony Romas. These soulful spicy pinto beans turn up wherever briskets or ribs are roasted to smoky perfection or cabritos (baby goats) come off the turn spit crackling crisp. Native to northern Mexico, charros have become an essential part of Texas barbecue. But unlike the sweet baked beans served with Southern-style barbecue, charros contain not a whit of sugar-which makes them the perfect accompaniment to beef. A simple version might contain a little onion or jalapeno for flavor; the following recipe offers a tongue tingling blast of bacon, tomato, and chilies. By the way, dont be surprised by the soupy consistency of the beans: charros are always served with lots of flavorful broth.

Tips: The purist will want to start with dry pinto beans and cook them from scratch. Not only does this give you the satisfaction of doing the job right. You can also control the sodium (most canned beans are off the chart in salt content) and you get a wonderful bean broth. However, in our hurried age, not everyone will have the time to cook dried beans, so I offer a highly tasty version of charros made with canned beans below.

1. Spread the beans on a baking sheet and pick through them, removing any twigs or pebbles. Rinse the beans in a colander. Place in a large bowl with cold water to cover by 4 inches. Soak the beans in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
2. Drain the beans in a colander, rinse well, and place them in a large pot with water to cover by 4 inches. Pin the bay leaves to the onion halves with cloves and add to the beans. Gradually bring the beans to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the beans, loosely covered, until tender (you should be able to crush one between your thumb and forefinger.) The beans should be soupy, but not watery. Add a little salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the bacon and cook until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato, jalapenos, and cilantro and cook until the tomato juices have evaporated, 3 minutes. Stir the mixture into the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning, adding the salt and pepper to taste: the beans should be highly seasoned. Serve the charros in small bowls (to hold the broth.)
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