Sunday, December 2, 2012

Frijoles a la Charra - Timo Style

As you may or not know, I've been dealing with issues with my TMJ (AKA the jaw joint) which has significantly prohibited me to chew anything remotely hard or chewy. I've been forced to soft food & liquid diet due to this. With the "Season of Eating" in tow, this has been extremely difficult for me as you can only imagine. The upside to this dilemma is that's been forcing me to try new recipes. I'm going to share a recipe that is dear to my heart as it was something that I would eat frequently as a child of a Latina mother., Frijoles a la Charra. For those of you who don't speak Spanish, that translates to Charred Bean Soup.

The ingredients are very simple and I managed to create a less time consuming way to make them. The way my mom makes them is literally a 2 day process. She will soak the black beans in water over night and then cook the beans the next day. Being lazy and impatient, I decided that there had to be an easier way to do this because I sure did not want to wait 24 hours to eat my bean soup! So here's what I did to replicate the Frijoles a la Charra exactly like my mom makes them.

Frijoles a la Charra - Timo Style

(3) Cans of Black beans - 15 oz.
(1) Can of diced tomatoes - 15 oz.
(1) Small can of tomato sauce - 6 oz.
(1) package of bacon
(1) yellow onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro
2-3 jalapenos, serrano, hatch or poblano peppers (for heat)


Cotija cheese or any Mexican style cheese
Mexican "Crema" or sour cream
Sliced avocados
Corn or flour tortillas

The first thing I like to do before making my meal, is to cut and prep the vegetables so that I can get that portion out of the way.

1. Chop the entire onion into small pieces and set aside in a bowl. Then you will want to dice up the garlic cloves. I cheat and use a garlic press and they come out the perfect size. Finally, cut the steps off of the cilantro after washing and then coarsely chop it. Put in another bowl to the side. Finally, you will need to seed and dice up the peppers that you are going to add into the bean soup. If you don't want your beans to be spicy, you can skip the peppers all together. Put them in another small bowl and set aside.

2. Next you will want to fry up the bacon in the same pot that you will be cooking your beans in. Not only does the bacon go into the soup, but the bacon grease gives the beans the "charred" flavor. Preheat the burner to medium before putting in the bacon. Once you have cooked the bacon, lay it out on a paper towel to get rid of any excess grease and cool down as you will have to chop up the bacon later.

3. Once you have cooked the package of bacon, you are now ready to saute the onions in bacon grease. This will take about 3-4 minutes or until the onions have caramelized. Then add in the garlic. You will stir the onion and garlic together for another 2 minutes.

4. Once you have sauteed the vegetables, you can now add in the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cilantro, peppers. Stir the ingredients together.

5. By now the bacon should be cool enough to chop up coarsely. Once you have completed this step, you will put the bacon into the pot with the other ingredients. 

6. You now need to reduce the heat to a simmer and set the timer for 1 hour to let all of the ingredients simmer and marinate together.

Once the timer goes off, you are ready to ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with Cotija, sprigs of cilantro, and cut avocado. In less than an hour and a half you have what it normally takes my mom to make in 2 days and it tastes EXACTLY the same. 

There's nothing like eating your favorite dish and having it transport you to a previous time. Not to mention that it has bacon, and a lot of it! This hearty soup reminds of me of when I was a little girl and my mom would make this for us when times were tough and this all we could afford. It's funny how things change and now I make Frijoles a la charra for myself simply because they taste amazing and because I can't chew anything harder than pasta. 

Thanks mom for the wonderful recipe and I hope you all enjoy a little taste of comfort from my home. Buen provecho!