This may be my favorite bean recipe ever. (Which is saying a lot, because I cook with beans a lot.) This recipe was given to me by my friend Laura at A Wilderness Life.  She’s a demon in the kitchen.  She got the original recipe from The Homesick Texan, but has changed it so that it is vegetarian friendly, without losing any of the amazing deliciousness.  (That’s the ole smoked paprika instead of bacon trick again!)  We serve this with rice and cheddar cheese, or in burritos, or Laura’s way: over a big slice of cornbread.  All equally delicious.  All equally filling.  All equally cheap.  Win! Win! Win!  I usually make a double batch because it freezes beautifully, and because this recipe takes all afternoon to make, I only want to make it once in awhile.  But it’s worth it!

Frijoles a La Charra

1 lb bag pinto beans

1/2 large onion, diced finely

1 Tbsp salt

garlic to taste (I use about 2-3 large cloves)

1 Tbsp oil

1 tsp smoked paprika plus 1 tbsp butter (or chop up and fry some bacon instead)

1 can diced tomatoes (These days I sub 1/2 can pumpkin and a splash of vinegar)

4 oz chipotle sauce (see recipe below)

1/4 cup jalapeño juice from the jar

1 tbsp cilantro

Soak and rinse beans.  Saute onions and garlic in oil.  Add beans, jalapeño juice, salt, and enough water to cover the beans by a few inches.  Cover and simmer about an hour, or until beans are almost done.  They should be softening, but still just a little too firm to eat.  While your beans are simmering, make the chipotle sauce: puree a can of chipotles in adobo.  I freeze this puree by the heaping tsp so that I can remove one piece at a time, thaw, and mix each heaping tsp in with about 1/2 cup mayo to make the chipotle sauce for this recipe.  (This makes an awesome taco topping, too, by the way.) In a separate pan, heat paprika and butter until fragrant.  Add tomato (or pumpkin and vinegar if you’re citric acid free), chipotle sauce, and cilantro.  Simmer tomato mixture for 10 minutes and then stir in to the pot with the beans.  (Laura’s original recipe calls for pureeing the tomato mix first, but I find that after I’m done simmering the beans, the tomato has almost all broken down anyway, so I skip that step.  Plus it’s messy.)  Simmer the beans until they cook down nice and thick.  This will take awhile and needs regular stirring.  Serve with cheddar cheese, if you know what’s good for you.  Eat it straight out of the pot, over rice, in a tortilla, or over corn bread.