It is New Years tradition in our home to eat some sort of legume (beans, peas, lentils) on the first day of the year. Eating these beans/peas/lentils is meant to bring you prosperity in the New Year. I remember from the time I was a little girl my Uncle Ken bringing over batches of lentils and telling me the more I ate, the richer I would be. This tradition is practiced in many different cultures. In Brazil, they eat lentil soup or lentils and rice, in Germany they eat lentil or split pea soup with sausage and in Italy, the customary dish is sausage and green lentils. In the Southern US, the tradition is to eat black eyed peas or “hoppin’ John.”
For our New Years feast this year, we decided to try the Mexican tradition and made Drunken Beans. We used dried pink beans we got from the Farmers’ Market, but any dried bean will do (Pinto, red beans, even black eyed peas). This dish comes together easily and is a good one for a lazy, hungover New Years Day since the beans take a little while to simmer on the stovetop and you need to keep watch nearby (aka on the sofa).
The beans taste delicious. Hearty without being heavy and just salty enough because of the addition of the bacon. We served ours over some brown rice and added a pinch of cilantro and Mexican cheese over the top to spice them up. I think they would also taste delicious in a tortilla (which I will likely be trying for dinner tonight).
Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans)
- 1 pound dried Pinto or pink/red beans
- 6 cups water
- 4 ounces uncured slab bacon, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
- 1 fresh whole Jalapeno or Serrano chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano or dried marjoram
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 bottle amber or dark beer
- Kosher salt
- Juice of one lime, about 1 ounce
- Brown rice (optional)
- Cilantro, chopped (optional)
- Mexican cheese (optional)
- Pick over the beans and remove any stones or debris and place them in a large pot. Add 6 cups of cold tap water, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the beans sit, undrained, for an hour. (*The beans should be tender at this point. The older your beans, the more soaking time they will need.)
- In a lage, heavy bottomed pot, begin browning the bacon over medium heat. When the bacon is nicely browned on all sides, add the chopped onion, garlic, Jalapeno or Serrano chile, and the oregano or dried marjoram to the pot and cook until onions are translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
- Drain the beans and add them (without their liquid) to the pot. Add the tomatoes, beer and a pinch of salt. (There should be plenty of liquid, but if needed, add water until the beans are just covered). Bring the beans up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, partially covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and tasting to adjust salt as needed. Stir in the lime juice just before serving. Ladle into bowls over brown rice and top with cilantro and Mexican cheese.
Adapted from Food 52