A favorite Sunday afternoon activity in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, is to go out to the outskirts of the city and eat tacos al carbon. They are sold in small but very clean stands. The atmosphere is festive and totally Mexican, with whole families sitting around long oilcloth-covered tables and strolling bands of musicians, usually mariachis or trios. The meat is charcoal-broiled, cut with lightning speed into tiny squares, placed in a soft, freshly made corn tortilla with sprigs of cilantro, and usually downed with a cold bottle of beer or bottled soft drinks. The accompaniments are roasted scallions and these Frijoles Charros — heaven! You can serve these beans with any grilled or barbecued meat. “Charros” means cowboy-style, except that charros are not exactly cowboys but members of exclusive clubs or societies that colorfully enact rodeo feats in elaborate costumes.
l pound cooked (but still firm) pinto beans
l bottle (l2 ounces) dark Mexican beer (or other dark beer)
4 pickled jalapeno chiles, finely chopped (use more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons lard or bacon drippings
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped (l medium onion)
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 cups coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes (about 2 large tomatoes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For this recipe pinto beans should be slightly undercooked (be sure to use plenty of liquid in cooking). Drain them and place in a large bean pot or Dutch oven with beer and chopped jalapenos. Bring to a boil.
While beans are heating, heat lard over high heat until fragrant in medium-sized saucepan or saute pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, 2 – 3 minutes. Add tomato and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add mixture to the beans, let boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook partly covered l0 minutes, or until the flavors are melded.
Serves 6 or more as side dish.