Mexican beans 3 ways: Frijoles charros, oaxaqueños, and puercos
Frijoles de la olla– the ultimate Mexican-style brothy beans– are delicious as is, but if you're looking to put on your hosting hat for Cinco de Mayo or any other celebratory occasion, we're also sharing 3 ways to transform these beans into dishes representing regional favorites across Mexico. Each of these preparations starts with a batch of frijoles de la olla, so if you haven't already tried our foolproof recipe, start there.
Region: Northern Mexico
Description: Brothy, bacon-y, and spicy. Perfect as they are or topped with salty, crumbly cheese and avocado.
How to prepare: In a large skillet, sauté some chorizo and/or bacon, about 2-4 oz total, until fat is rendered and meat(s) is crispy. Add a diced onion, a couple of cloves minced garlic, ½-1 diced serrano pepper, and 2 chopped fresh tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes have released their juices and onions are translucent. Stir the mixture into your reserved frijoles de la olla and simmer for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in some chopped cilantro and taste for salt before serving.
Note: To make them frijoles borrachos, simply add ½ a bottle of your favorite Mexican beer and let it simmer with the rest of the ingredients.
Which beans to use: Negro
Description: Aromatic, creamy, and earthy. Serve with totopos (corn tortilla chips) and mezcal.
How to prepare: Strain your reserved frijoles de la olla (reserving the broth). In a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, toast 2-3 chiles de arból and 5 dried avocado leaves for a few minutes until fragrant. Remove the stem from chiles and break chiles and avocado leaves into pieces (don't discard the seeds). In a blender, combine beans, chiles, and avocado leaves, and blend until smooth to create a thick paste, adding broth only as necessary. In a large skillet, sauté chopped onion in some vegetable oil for 6-8 minutes. Add bean mixture and cook on very low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding broth as needed so the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Taste for salt and top with queso fresco.
Region: Sinaloa, Northern Mexico
Description: Smoky, cheesy, and spicy. Slather on warm flour tortillas.
How to prepare: Strain your reserved frijoles de la olla (reserving the broth) and blend beans until smooth with a chipotle in adobo and a little of the sauce to taste, adding broth as necessary to create a thick paste. In a large skillet, sauté 3 oz chorizo and once it's browned and fully cooked, add ½ a diced onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the pureed beans along with 4 oz grated melting cheese (asadero, Oaxaca, or Chihuahua are preferred, or Monterey Jack) and cook over low heat until bubbling and the cheese is melted. Taste for salt before serving.