I’ve always loved to cook and eat beans, but my trip to Arizona took bean enjoyment to a whole ‘nuther level. Southwestern ranch style beans were served with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was delightful tasting each restaurant’s version — some were spicer, some had more depth, some were full of tomato, some in a thick sauce, some brothy — all delicious.
I was home a few days, and started going into ranch bean withdrawal. And it’s not like you can just go to the local place and get ranch beans around here! So I had to make them.
These aren’t as over the moon fantastic as the many versions I had in Arizona, but they are a delicious start. They are also economical, healthful, and versatile. Here is my starting recipe, which I hope to make even better as I learn more about Southwestern cooking. I’ve already gotten some seeds for Hatch and New Mexico Grande peppers for my garden this year — adding roasted ones should kick these up a notch for sure!
Southwestern Ranch Style Beans
Optional: 4 slices bacon. I used it — it gives a wonderful depth of flavor, but feel free to skip.
1 lb dried pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 head garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cayenne
1 – 10 oz can tomatoes with green chilies
salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
I like to make this in an 8 quart cast iron Dutch oven, but use whatever large-ish pot you have.
Cut up your bacon (if you are using) into small pieces — I snip mine with a scissors. Add to your pot, put on the heat to medium, and cook just until it starts to render.
If you are not using bacon, add a little neutral oil to your pot.
Add your onions and garlic to the pot, and sauté until they are getting soft and a little browned. Add your spices, stir, and let them cook a minute. Drain your soaked beans and add them to the pot. Add your tomatoes with chiles, stir, then add enough water so that your beans are covered by at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a very low simmer. Cover the pot on a slant so you have a little air circulation — you know what I mean 🙂
Stir once every half hour or so. You may need to add a little more water, but maybe not — keep an eye on things. My beans took two hours to get nice and soft but your beans can take more or less time depending on how freshly dried they are. Taste them. Add salt to taste and cook another half hour. Grind some pepper on them, stir, and you’re done. You can mash some of them with a large spoon on the side of your pot to thicken the broth if you’d like.
I served these with rice, a little crumbled cheese, some salsa verde, and some griddled cornbread. Yum. Let me know if you want my cornbread recipe! I think I’m going to make some enchiladas with them, and certianly have them as a side for huevos rancheros.