Karl’s Drunken Pinto Beans II

Adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe

I am making tri-tip tacos for Christmas and tacos call for beans. I made these a few months ago and they were very popular with my family. The term “drunken” implies that you are using a large amount of an alcoholic beverage in the dish. The trick to keeping it from tasting “boozy” is to cook off the alcohol before adding any water.

Karl’s Drunken Pinto Beans II

Karl’s Drunken Pinto Beans II

In Mexican cuisine, a lot of dishes depend on chilies for their main flavoring. You can get a wide range of distinct flavors depending on the type, and processing of these spicy pods. Fresh, dried, smoked & dried, dried and rehydrated in adobo sauce, or any combination of these choices can make or break a dish. Last time I used only fresh chilies in making these beans. This time, I am adding dried as well as a different combination of fresh chilies.

Karl’s Drunken Pinto Beans II


1 lb. pinto beans
3 Tbs. Kosher salt

2 Anaheim chilies
1 Pobalano chilies
½ Jalapeño pepper

2 Tbs. smoky bacon grease (vegetable oil for Vegan)
1 large yellow onion, diced finely (about 2 cups)
1 cup cilantro stems, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Karl’s Mexican Beef Seasoning Blend

½ cup tequila
2 bay leaves

2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 bottle of Mexican lager

Serve on the side

½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
½ cup yellow onion, diced
1 lime, cut into wedges


1. Sort and rinse the beans and put them in a large pot.

2. Add a gallon of water and two tablespoons of Kosher salt.

Tip: Soak the beans at least eight hours, but overnight is better.

Note: ATK chef says three tablespoons of salt, but most of this salt gets poured down the sink when you rinse the beans, so it seems like a waste to me.

3. Remove the stems and cut the Anaheims, Pobalano and Jalapeño peppers in half along the long axis.

Tip: Many cooks roast their peppers whole and then struggle to remove the seeds from the hot, slippery peppers. I find it easier to remove the seeds while the  pepper is cold and raw. This technique also allows you to roast both sides of the chilies at the same time—saving energy.

4. Lay the chilies, skin side up, on a lipped baking tray and broil them for 10-15 minutes.

Tip: Until the skins are blackened and blistered.

5. Put the roasted peppers in a plastic bag and twist it shut.

Tip: By sealing the hot peppers in a bag, they steam and this loosens the skins further.

6. Peel off the skins and chop the chilies into a quarter inch dice, reserve.

7. Bunch the cilantro stems and slice then into ⅛ inch pieces, reserve.

Tip: Reserve the leafy cilantro tops for the tacos or garnish.

8. Just before you are ready to start cooking, drain, rinse, and set the beans aside.

9. Heat the grease in a large Dutch oven, over medium high heat, and sauté the onions with the salt until they are starting to get well browned, about 10-12 minutes.

10. Add the chilies and continue cooking for 3-4 more minutes.

11. Add the cilantro stems and sauté for another two minutes.

12. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic.

Note: Many recipes would call for adding the tomato paste at this point. According to ATK, if you add the tomato paste before the long simmer, its acid would counter act the sodium from the salt soaking and would prevent the beans from becoming tender.

13. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and mix it into the other vegetables.

14. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot again and add the spice blend.

15. Toast the chili powder for one minute to “bloom the spices” and stir it into the vegetables.

16. Add the tequila and used the liquid to deglaze the bottom of the pot.

17. Continue cooking, scrapping the bottom of the pot frequently, until the liquor is completely evaporated.

Tip: With no water to bind to, all of the alcohol will be steamed away—leaving only the sweet flavor of the tequila.

18. Add three cups of water, the beans, and the bay leaves to the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.

19. Cover the Dutch oven and move it to a 275º F oven for 45-60 minutes.

Tip: At that point the beans will just be just about tender.

20. Add the  tomato paste and the beer.

Tip: Note: You do not want to add the beer too early either—over a long cooking period the hops in the beer would turn very bitter.

21. Continue cooking over medium low heat for 30-40 minutes.

Tip: Check seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Note: Decide if your bean broth is as thick as you prefer. If it is too thick, add some more beer. If it is too thin, crush some of the beans against the side of the pot and stir them in. Continue simmering until the released starch thickens the broth.

22. Serve in the Dutch oven with the cilantro leaves, cotija cheese, chopped onion, and lime wedges on the side.

1 Comment

Filed under Beans, Sauces and Spices, Side Dishes, Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian

One response to “Karl’s Drunken Pinto Beans II

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Christmas Tri-tip Tacos | Jabberwocky Stew

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