Pinto Beans with Smoked Sausage

Pintos and SausageOK – I seriously love beans.  I know that they might seem like po’ folk food or an oft-forgotten side dish to tacos, but I can easily make a meal of them by themselves.  A lot of people never learn to properly cook dry beans, and even those that do often lack imagination when cooking them.  What follows is a basic improvisation on pintos.  Many other ‘New World’ beans would work, including mayacoba, vallarta, ojo de cabra, vaquero, yellow eye, etc.

As for the sausage – read your labels!  In this case, all-beef sausage is best.  Outside of Texas, it can be difficult to get proper smoked beef sausage, but whatever you do, try to avoid anything with a bunch of fillers or corn syrup or preservatives.

This recipe is good for two people; it can be easily doubled.  I use a pressure cooker to cut off a lot of time (especially important in an already steamy summer kitchen), but traditional method could work well, too.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. of dried pinto beans
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 large jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 12 oz. beer
  • 2 to 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 lb. smoked sausage, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 1 to 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • 2 scallions, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup cotija (or parmesan) cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Process

  1. Soak beans in a bowl of water for several hours.  Drain and rinse before cooking
  2. In cooking pot, heat oil and then saute onion.  Once onions are translucent, add garlic and onions.  NB: Do not add any salt before the beans are cooked.
  3. Add beer, then beans, then enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches.
  4. Bring pressure cooker up to steam and cook for about 30 minutes.
  5. Once beans are fairly soft on the outside (but still not completely cooked), add sausage and seasonings.  Bring to simmer and cook for at least 30 more minutes, until beans are cooked through.  Cooking longer certainly isn’t going to hurt.  Be sure to taste along the way so that the proper amount of salt can be added.  Stir occasionally and add water as needed.
  6. Prepare brown rice per usual methods.
  7. Serve beans atop rice and garnish with cilantro, onions, and cheese, along with fresh flour tortillas.  Also recommended are your favorite Mexican hot sauce (pictured) and a very cold lager beer.
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