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Frijoles Borrachos: Steve Sando's Drunken Beans

Steve Sando is the man behind Rancho Gordo, a great source of every type of bean imagineable, and my go-to-guy when I have a bean question. As I was working on creating a list of the classic American bean dishes, I asked him for feedback. He told me about one I had never encountered, and now it ranks among my faves. This is one of the best recipes with beer that I know.

He says "As baked beans are to an Easterner, out West a bowl of borrachos (which translates roughly to mean "drunks") is a comfort food beyond compare. Some of these beans, a good salad, and another bottle of beer to wash it all down is about all you need. The measurements and directions are very forgiving so don't be afraid to improvise and come up with your own tradition."

For more of his recipes, check out his book, Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo.

Serves. 4

Prep for the beans. 12 hours soaking plus 30 minutes boiling

Cook time for the beans. 2 hours

Cooking the borrachos. 45 minutes


3/4 pound of dried beans

1 bottle lager beer

2 slices good quality bacon, diced

1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed

3 to 4 Serrano chiles, finely chopped

1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to test

Lime wedges for serving

About the beans. Any of the pinto-like beans are in order here. Sando also likes Rio Zape, Red Appaloosa, or Anasazi. If you use dried beans, you should read my article The Science of Beans to learn how to prep them. Sando sells dried beans so that's what he wants you to use, but you can use canned beans. Just substitute 3 (15 ounce) cans of beans will cut the cooking time to 2 hours.


1) Soak the dried beans and boil them in a large soup pot as in my article The Science of Beans. Drain them.

2) Add the beer and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, in an ungreased heavy skillet, over medium heat, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered. Move to a paper some paper towels on top of some newspaper to drain and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the excess oil. Keep the flame at medium and cook the onion, garlic, and chiles until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. If the pan looks like it might burn, then add an ounce of water to loosen the meat bits, and scrub them off with a wooden spoon. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and wilted. Add the cooked bacon and stir.

4) Transfer this mixture to the beans, season with salt and pepper to your taste, add more water if you wish, and simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with warm corn tortillas and lime wedges.

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