Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans
adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2011
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped (I used six slices.)
1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded, minced, divided
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (4 oz. for garnish) (Available at most markets or Latin markets, feta may be substituted if you are unable to locate Cotija.)
Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)
Pickled Onions (see recipe)
Place beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 4 inches. Let soak overnight. Drain beans. (I elected to bring the beans to a boil, boil about 3 minutes, cover and let stand for an hour and a half.)
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in same large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon to pot and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp drippings from pot. Add onion, garlic, and 1 minced jalapeno and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add drained beans to pot. Pour in enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water by 1/2-cupfuls if dry, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Stir in remaining jalapeno. Season to taste with salt.
Working Ahead: The beans can be made 2 days in advance. Let cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving, adding additional water as needed if dry. (I prefer to make beans ahead. I think the flavors then have a chance to meld and they taste better.)
Transfer beans to a large bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro and serve with pickled onions.
These were a great addition to the fiesta!