Charro beans are Mexican-style pinto beans cooked in a broth that features bacon, onions, garlic, smoky peppers and other delicious spices.
Several months ago I shared my recipe for Instant Pot Refried Beans. It happens to be one of our staples in this Mexican-American home we have for our family of 7.
If I were to tell my children that beans were no longer allowed in this home, I’d be in some pretty big trouble. I am almost certain that they would pack up and move out to another home down the street.
Beans are one of the biggest staples we have going on. Years ago, I used to cook them over the stove for several hours until they were tender, before mashing with a little tallow and adding seasonings.
Add some variety to your beans
Thankfully I can whip up beans much easier these days with my Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker). We eat them for breakfast, lunch dinner and everything in between.
I love cooking beans in the Instant Pot because it really, truly is effortless. Once they are cooked up, you can blend them with a little of their cooking water in the blender. Then, add to a skillet oiled with a little tallow for refried beans. Or, serve them with plenty of spices so you can dip your chips within (just like the restaurant — only cheaper!)
Cook them in a beer-broth for drunken beans (frijoles borachos). Or fancy them up with herbs and spices to make cowboy beans (frijoles charros).
Any way you decide to cook them they turn out delicious and full of flavor.
Pinto Beans or Peruano (aka Peruvian) Beans?
So many choices! Peruano beans are a very quiet sibling of the pinto bean and black bean. Pinto and black beans are undoubtedly much more popular — but peruano are by far a much tastier bean.
They have a lighter color and have a mild and buttery consistency that makes them muy delicoso. While they can be a little harder to find than pinto and black beans, if you have a Latin market near you with beans by the pound you might want to take a peek to see if you can find them.
We have them at our local Latin market for $.79 per pound – and the price is well worth every penny! They cook up much lighter and creamy in texture than their pinto bean counterpart.
You can also find them at Rancho Gordo, too. I personally won’t use pinto beans at home because I find peruano beans to be incredibly amazing ~ once you have them it’s hard to go back. My kids love peruano beans just as much if not more than I do.
Although we used peruano beans for these charro beans, you can definitely use pinto beans as well.
Do beans need to soak before cooking?
Most people know that the Instant Pot can cook beans in record time. Take them from dry to cooked in an hour including the time it takes the pot to come to pressure. However, I always try to soak my beans the night prior if at all possible.
Soaking the beans reduces those anti-nutrients that are in beans – phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors. Those anti-nutrients are what cause gas, heartburn and other digestive issues. Soaking allows you to reduce those anti-nutrients allowing for greater nutrient absorption and digestibility.
To soak, place a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of dried beans. Cover with 3-4 C. of water. You can also use yogurt, kefir or clabbered milk. Soak 12-24 hours, then drain and rinse before cooking as usual. It’s best not to go over 12-18 hours in the summer months, then drain and rinse before proceeding with the recipe.
Soaking will also reduce the cooking time as well. Soaked beans can cook in 25 minutes, whereas dried beans will take 45-50 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot (plus the time it takes to come to pressure).
Whatever recipe you choose to follow, make sure that you add your seasonings at the very end after the beans have cooked. Salt can prevent the beans from breaking down during the cooking process so it’s wise to add the salt at the very end of the recipe.
Mexican Charro Beans
Add your beans, onions, garlic and jalapeño(s) to the Instant Pot. Cover with water, and place the lid on the Instant Pot. Close the valve and push manual (high pressure), and cook for 25 – 45 minutes.
Cook for 25 minutes if you have pre-soaked the beans, or 45 minutes if you did not pre-soak. The pot will take 10 minutes to come to pressure and then will count down from 25-45 minutes. Once it beeps done, allow the pot to release naturally.
Carefully remove the lid; you don’t want too much extra water in the pot, so if there is too much, let some out, taking care not to let the beans fall out with the water.
Add your optional meat (chopped bacon, chorizo or etc), spices, salt and cilantro, if desired.
To make Mexican Charro Beans in a slow cooker: Bring 6 C. of water to a boil with your beans in a large stock pot. Reduce the heat, simmer and cover for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; allow to stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans. Transfer beans to a 4 quart slow cooker with 4 cups of fresh water, onions, jalapeño and garlic. Cook on low, 8-10 hours or high, 4-5 hours. Add your salsa, spices and salt at the end of the cooking period.