What are Charro Beans
Charro Beans are Mexican-style pinto beans seasoned with spices, onions, and tomatoes. They can be served as an entree or side dish, but they also are great as a dip with tortilla chips! These beans have extra flavor from country ham, garlic, jalapenos, chicken broth, and cilantro.
Use a Slow Cooker to Finish the Beans
Soak dry pinto beans overnight. In the morning, add them to a pot and boil them for about 30 minutes. Then place them into a slow cooker and finish cooking the beans. Why the 2-step process? Dry beans contain a toxic substance called lectin that is only destroyed by high heat. Some slow cookers might not get hot enough to destroy the lectin, so the beans are boiled first and then placed into the slow cooker to finish the cooking. Although pinto beans have less lectin than high-lectin kidney beans, it is still good practice to boil them first to destroy the lectin.
Country Ham vs Bacon
This recipe uses country ham to flavor the beans. If you are not familiar with country ham, it is a salty, dry-cured, smoked ham. It usually comes thinly sliced in a packet. When this ham is cooked by itself, it is salty and chewy.
You can use bacon in place of country ham for this recipe. Some might argue that country ham imparts a little more flavor than bacon, and it’s a nice twist since so many charro recipes use bacon. However, bacon is more readily available for most people, so I included the substitution amount in the recipe.
Another thing that imparts extra flavor to these beans is chicken broth. The beans are actually cooked in broth rather than water, making them more flavorful.
This recipe has tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, green onions, and garlic. You can add other peppers for a spicier taste if you like. Because these beans are cooked long and slow in a slow cooker, I chop the vegetables larger to withstand the long cook time. Enjoy!