SLAP-YO’-MAMA-STYLE OVEN ROASTED RIBS

Just for the record, I would never slap your mama, my mama, or anyone’s mama. But we’ve all heard the phrase “that’s so good you’ll wanna slap yo mama.” There’s even a company, Slap Ya Mama, that makes Cajun seasoning which you can find in the spice area at Gateway Market!

Barbecued pork ribs can definitely fall into this “so good you’ll wanna…” category. And as amazing as smoked ribs can be, sometimes you just want ribs without the hassle of setting up the equipment and smelling like smoke for two days afterwards. So today’s recipe is from my personal collection and uses an old-fashioned home oven, which I’ve found works perfectly well, especially during an Iowa winter.

Ribs roasted in a home oven can be surprisingly good.

Ribs can seem intimidating, but they’re really pretty easy. All you need is the basic formula to make indoor ribs work, like this no-brainier recipe. You just need to do some simple prep and then you can just forget about them in the oven and still get a great result!

If you want to put your own spin on it, you can always experiment with rubs and sauces. For instance, I might add fresh thyme and rosemary to the rub and honey, molasses or brown sugar in the sauce. You can add more mustard and vinegar if you like to the sauce. You can also experiment with picante sauce like those offered by La Tapatia brand (available at Gateway). Adding a bunch of picante will make a sauce taste a little more like Arthur Bryant’s famed sauce (that’s a secret I’m sure they don’t want to let out!). Be adventurous with rubs and sauces to find your own special recipe!

Oven roasted ribs – Slap Yo Mama Style

  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • Make your own rub (here’s my recipe), or pick one of the fine commercial rubs at Gateway
  • 2-4 tbsps. Worcestershire sauce (want some added smoke? Add a few drops of liquid smoke here to up the ante)
  • BBQ sauce (try making George’s K.C. Style BBQ Sauce, or simply use one of the many specialty sauces Gateway carries).

Here’s how to get the magic going…

Heat oven (or smoker) to 275 degrees.

Remove membrane from back side of ribs. Rub Worcestershire sauce, followed by rubbing spice mix into both sides of the ribs.

Place the ribs side by side on a baking pan or large cookie sheet. Cook for 3 hours or until bone can be easily pulled away from rack. You do not want the meat to be falling off the bone – real fans of Q won’t stand for that!

You can serve these ribs immediately or hold warm, coated with sauce on one side. Or liberally brush ribs with sauce and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes to caramelize sauce.

PULLED PORK FOR THE BIG GAME

If your team is one of the two slated to play in the big game this weekend, congratulations! You get to root on your boys as they invade the Big Easy. As for the rest of us, we get the pleasure of doing the same thing our favorite teams are doing – sitting on our butts, chowing down and watching the TV.

But just because you’re not down in New Orleans doesn’t mean you have to settle for bad wings and dry chicken tenders. Big games, like the one on Sunday, offer a great excuse to cook something different.

Sometimes you can base a game-day menu on where a given team comes from. Just think of those classic towns with storied food traditions and world famous dishes. Philadelphia has the cheese steak, Green Bay is famous for sausages, New England is known for chowder… you get the drill.

This year, you might prepare some sort of crab dish in honor of Baltimore. For San Francisco? Maybe something with sour dough (or Rice-A-Roni if you’re feeling cheeky).

Sometime, though, your focus is on downing those fizzy lifting drinks, so you want all the heavy lifting done by kickoff. A perfect food for this strategy is pulled pork.

You don’t need much to make great pulled pork.

You don’t need a smoker to do a great pork shoulder. All you need you is a little time and know-how. If you can control the temperature of your oven or smoker and want to use a rub on this pork, you can. Just make sure you keep your temperature consistently at 275 and smoke or roast until the meat hits an internal temperature of 205. You need to roast low and slow – roasting too fast will result in dry meat!

Super Sunday Pulled Pork Sandwiches
You’ll need to do some prep work a day in advance of when you want to dig in. You’ll need:

  • Pork shoulder or butt, 5 to 7 pounds
  • Dried thyme
  • Pepper
  • Granulated garlic
  • Onion powder

Rub salt liberally on all sides of the pork, followed by pinches of dried thyme, pepper, granulated garlic and onion powder. You can use only salt and pepper, or your favorite rub recipe if you like, but I find the above procedure can be used for a few different dishes (but if you insist on that classic BBQ rub, I’ve included my recipe below).

George Formaro’s rub

  • 2 tbs. smoked paprika
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground celery seed
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin seed
  • 2 tbs. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. chile pepper
  • 1 tsp. leaf thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/16 tbs. or pinch of red wine vinegar powder

Place rubbed roast in large airtight plastic bag or container; refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: Remove the pork about 30 minutes before cooking and preheat your oven to 275 degrees.

Place pork fat side up in a roasting pan or an aluminum pan. Roast in middle of your oven for 6 to 8 hours (In my home oven, I’ve found that 7 hours always works; yours may vary a bit).

Roast or smoke until pork reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees or the roast can easily be pulled apart. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes. Using surgical gloves (double up), pull shreds apart, or use tongs to pull it into chunks.

Toss the pulled pork with your favorite BBQ sauce and hold in a crock pot. Serve with South Union buns, coleslaw and baked beans.

Get’n SAUCY with George’s K.C. Style Sauce

Now, we’ve got a lot of great BBQ sauce selections at Gateway Market, covering a variety of styles and tastes. But if you want to give making your own a shot, here’s one recipe you’re sure to love.

  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1
  • 1 32 oz. bottle ketchup
  • tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 cup corn syrup or brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ground celery seed
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook on the stove for at least 20 minutes.

If you want to kick up the heat, you can add things like chipotle in adobo or jalapeno peppers. You also can customize this recipe by adding honey, molasses, espresso powder or different jams or preserves such as peach or raspberry to make it your own.

Pulled pork replaces shaved beef in this Philly-style sandwich.


Pulled Pork Sandwich, Philly Style

Want to try a different approach for your pulled pork? Skip the BBQ sauce, and try this play on a classic Philly! You’ll need:

  • About 2 cups cooked pulled pork (warm)
  • 4 South Union hoagie rolls
  • 1 bunch chopped broccoli rabe (if you can’t find broccoli rabe, you can substitute dandelion greens, Swiss chard, kale or turnip greens).
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 8 slices young provolone or whole milk mozzarella

To prepare the broccoli rabe, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add broccoli rabe and salt, and cooking until it becomes tender. Add the red pepper flake and garlic, adjust the seasoning until the taste is to your liking. Remove from heat and hold warm.

Now, you can make your sandwiches. Place 1/2 cup of warm pulled pork in each hoagie.

Divide desired amount of broccoli rabe among the 4 sandwiches, then place 2 slices of provolone on each sandwich. Toast them in your oven or in a toaster oven.

You’ve never had a Philly like this one before!

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a touch of aged provolone along with the young provolone – you’ll get a better flavor along with some stretchy melt! In addition, you can try making this same sandwich on sliced country Italian bread for panini heaven. Just butter the outside of the bread and let George Foreman do the work!

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT A POP-UP?

“Pop-up restaurant…”

These have been popular words in the restaurant world recently. The concept of launching a restaurant for a day or two is not new by any stretch. Winefest Des Moines stages one-night “Prima Dinners’’ in unique spots around the city. Also, more than a half dozen years ago, Des Moines Chef Hal Jasa (Zingaro, Underground Inc.) began his fantastic pop-up, underground dinners around the city and even got special mention in “Food & Wine” magazine (#51).

Bubba guests were in for an amazing four-course meal from Chef Scott Stroud.

The pop-up that we at Orchestrate launched earlier this month was staged in the gallery at Hoyt Sherman Place. Rather than a one-night dinner, it was a full-fledged restaurant that operated for three days. The pop-up had a name (Bubba), a full menu… even its own logo. This reservations-only, coursed dinner was cooked on site. Southern cuisine, such as biscuits, chicken and waffles, gumbo and peach cobbler were among the offerings. Each course was paired with a cocktail.

Each of the four courses offered at least three Southern-inspired options and a cocktail pairing.

Bubba, a labor of love, was a success because it was a true team effort. Orchestrate Chef Scott Stroud headed up Team Bubba with Christopher Diebel, a public affairs guy who represents Orchestrate properties and other great restaurants in the community. I was happy to help out by providing my classic southern biscuits. A tremendous amount of work went into the event.

A fried oyster amuse-bouche.

Plus, we all wanted to show off a little bit. I have to confess that I made biscuits almost every day for about three months to prepare for Bubba. I was like some kind of madman, to be honest. Even though I was just one small piece of the puzzle, I wanted to make a memorable biscuit. I like the pressure cooker atmosphere, especially when hype and expectations turn up the heat (such as the huge Zombie Burger + Drink Lab opening in Aug. 2011.)

One of the best things about a pop-up is that it can still be successful even if the concept wouldn’t necessarily work for a full-fledged, long-term restaurant (after all, opening a new place can take years off a chef’s life!). In other words, you wouldn’t sink a boatload of money into a concept that people only want to try once, but that concept is a perfect fit for a pop-up.

When we started considering pop-ups, our challenge was how to best capture the interest of the public. What is it about the event that sets it apart from a normal night out? A unique space? A fun theme? The short-term nature, aka the “get-it-now-while-you-can-or-be the-one-standing-on-the-sideline-missing-out-while-others-are uploading-to-Facebook-and-Twitter” mindset? To me, all of those things work to make a pop-up special, which is exactly what it should be!

Chef Scott Stroud in command of the Bubba kitchen

What I like about the pop-up concept is that it gives Orchestrate’s talented chefs a chance to step out from the restaurants they run and let their creativity loose. They get a bit of break from their routines and can spread their wings and try some new things in a fun environment.

Will we host another one? This much I will say: I’m considering doing one pop-up myself – stay tuned to this blog!

(P.S., much thanks to Chris Maharry (Maharry Photography) for capturing and allowing me to share these excellent shots of Bubba.)

HAM SANDWICH SQUARED

Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be great. Simple high-quality ingredients mixed with a little know-how can get you to a delicious place that sometimes gets lost for the sake of convenience and price. Let’s face it, most of what sets food apart is the ingredients, not some fancy secret kitchen trick.

One of the main reasons we established Gateway Market was to provide the community with easy access to quality ingredients. We wanted you to arm your kitchen arsenal with ingredients preferred by chefs and discriminating home cooks.

Using simple but high-quality ingredients will make a huge difference in how a dish tastes.

A recent project of mine at Gateway Market has been to revive a 90-year old recipe for sliced white Pullman bread. This specific sandwich bread dates back to at least the 1920s, although square, ban-baked bread was probably first made in 18th-century France. Pullman bread, for the record, got its name because it was served in Pullman Railway cars that used to crisscross the country. The bread was baked in lidded square pans in the compact kitchens that rode the rails.

Nowadays, small batch white Pullman bread is nearly extinct, replaced by large batch white breads. These large batch breads, with their extended shelf life and unnatural softness, just don’t have the body of small batch breads. To that point, Pullman bread is perfect for your morning toast, fried egg sandwich, or for the ultimate hot roast beef sandwich. (Don’t worry, I’ll do a blog post about that sandwich in the future. In the meantime, try my recipe for braised short ribs, whip up some mashed potatoes and a simple gravy for the best old-school open face hot roast beef you will ever have….)

Ham, cheese and an egg is mounted on the small batch pullman bread we make at Gateway Market.

Here is a great recipe for a French inspired ham sandwich. This recipe uses the best ingredients you can find – the better the ingredients, the better the sandwich. Just remember the battle cry often heard in my kitchens: “don’t get cheap on me, cuz!”

You will need:

  • 2 slices Gateway Market Pullman bread (per sandwich)
  • About 4-6 ounces sliced Niman Ranch ham (per sandwich)
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese (per sandwich)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Butter, softened
  • Gateway Market Alfredo sauce (about 3 tablespoons for each sandwich)
  • Grated Gruyere cheese (2 ounces per sandwich; you can also sub Comte, Ementhaler or Swiss).
  • 1 egg (per sandwich)

Preheat your oven to 400 (you can also use a toaster oven if you prefer).

When oven is heated, fire-up a griddle (or your George Foreman grill!).

Make sandwiches by spreading butter on one side of each slice of the bread. Spread Dijon mustard of the other side. Use sparingly  – the good stuff packs a punch.

Keeping the buttered side of the bread on the outside of each sandwich, place the desired amount of ham and Alfredo sauce on the sandwich, followed by a slice of the Swiss cheese.

Pullman bread, browning nicely on the griddle!

Close up the sandwich, then toast it on the griddle until it’s nicely browned (Our Pullman bread browns up great!)

Pullman bread, ham, Gateway Market Alfredo sauce and cheese ready for the oven.

Remove the sandwich(es) and place on a baking sheet. Cover with Alfredo sauce and grated cheese and place in a heated oven or toaster oven until cheese is melted (if using the toaster oven, cook until cheese browns.)

While sandwiches are toasting, fry one egg per sandwich, sunny side up. Once the sandwich emerges from the oven, top with an egg and dig in!

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!

Don’t have tickets to Bubba, this week’s three-night southern food pop-up restaurant at Hoyt Sherman Place? You’re not alone – the thing is sold out with a waiting list! But don’t get too down about it – try this recipe out for a little “southern hospitality” at home.

In some circles, the phrase “Winner winner chicken dinner,” is used to down-play a first-place finish. But today I am going to share a chicken dinner recipe that can be fantastic if it is done with some good ole kitchen lovin!

Two of my favorite Southern foods: Fried chicken and biscuits.

Fried chicken! If these words alone don’t get you excited, I can’t help you. The mere thought of fried chicken gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. But here’s a key fact: fried chicken is not an easy dish. Making it correctly takes attention and dedication; you can always tell that difference in the first bite.

Fried chicken is said to be rooted in Scottish immigrants who moved to the southern United States. Over the years, the approach evolved and people began adding seasoning and hot sauce. Some folks began serving it with country gravy and (if you’re lucky) collard greens. (I must have been a southerner in another life; that’s the most logical explanation for my intense love of southern cuisine!)

Before getting started, there’s something I’d like you to know: all the recipes I share are from my personal collection. These represent dishes I actually make in the way that I make them. That leads to a pet peeve of mine: I understand the need for the home cook to replicate recipes at home. But even if you have no intention of making a particular recipe, I feel that there is a benefit to knowing the correct way to do something. It gives you a little insight into the larger world of cooking and the care that goes into creating outstanding food.

I’m going to give you the best of the best, the real-deal recipes of those iconic foods I know and love – from burgers and hot dogs to tacos, pizza, fried chicken and more. So, without further ado, here’s my best fried chicken recipe. I promise that this will rival any chicken you can find anywhere!

Behold a winning batch of fried chicken.

Winner Winner Fried Chicken

For the meat, most people opt for using a cut up fryer chicken. Personally, I like to use bone-in chicken thighs: the foodie’s first choice piece for chicken. (You can usually spot the chefs by the cuts of meat that they grab. For example, if you are at a pig roast with chefs, you’ll see them fight over the meat from around the head and especially the cheek meat! Now you insiders can beat the chefs there for the good stuff!)

This recipe and most recipes are more about procedure and quality ingredients rather than any secret culinary magic or hard-to-find components. You must follow the procedure to have exceptional results.

Brine that bird!

First, you gotta brine your bird! Aside from the meat, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar

Put water, salt and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil on the stove. Cook for one minute, turn the heat off, then remove the pot from the heat. Cool the mixture in a refrigerator until it’s completely chilled.

Once that brine is fully chilled, add the cut up fryer chicken (or the equivalent of about 3 pounds of bone-in chicken if you’re going that route). Return the mixture to the fridge.

Leave the chicken in the brine for at least 12 hours. Twenty-four hours is ideal.

After that, remove chicken from brine and get ready for your next step: the buttermilk brine.

You will need:

  • sealable gallon bag or lidded container
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups  buttermilk
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Place the chicken in your gallon plastic storage bag or lidded container. Add all your buttermilk brine ingredients and let that mixture sit in the fridge for an additional 24 hours.

Coat and fry!

Once you’re ready to fry the chicken, prepare the seasoned flour coating. You’ll need:

  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Place seasonings and flour in a brown paper bag.

Remove about half the chicken from the buttermilk brine and shake off excess buttermilk so it does not drip freely. Add that chicken directly to the seasoned flour in the bag and shake.

It is important to let floured chicken pieces rest at least 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken (newly coated with flour and spices) from the bag; let the breading rest on the chicken for about 15 minutes.

While you wait, fill a cast iron skillet halfway with lard, vegetable oil or a shortening such as Crisco and heat it to 325 degrees. Use a thermometer to ensure you’re hitting the proper temperature.

Once the oil is heated, it’s time to fry the chicken. Gently add pieces one at time to avoid splashing hot oil all over the place. When you add the chicken, the oil temp should be right around 300 degrees.

Once you’ve added the chicken, use a thermometer to keep the temperature at 300 degrees.

If your temperature drops further, don’t worry. Just turn up the heat to get the oil back to around 300 degrees.

Repeat the breading process with the remaining chicken. Let these pieces rest while the first batch of chicken is frying.

Cook the chicken on one side until it’s nicely brown, then turn the chicken over. Place a lid over the cast iron skillet, but leave it slightly ajar.

Let the chicken cook until all sides are brown and it reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees.

Dry the fried chicken on paper towels and repeat the frying process with the second half of your chicken. Once you’re done, bask in the glory of this traditional southern favorite!

So there you have it – with a little time and attention, you’ve made some outstanding fried chicken. If youve struggled with this iconic dish don’t be afraid to adopt this recipe as your own (but if anyone asks, be sure to send them my way)!

IT’S OK TO TRUST A WHITE GUY MAKING TACOS

I used to be a food authenticity snob.

I would only eat Italian food from Italians, Chinese food from the Chinese, Mexican food from Mexicans and so on; I thought that was the way it had to be. I love traditional foods and am very much rooted in traditional cooking, recipes and techniques (I generally stay away from dishes that take longer to say then they do to eat). Some of this I probably learned from my mother, an amazingly talented cook with strong opinions about how things should be in the kitchen.

So, when I started cooking, I thought that everything I needed to know about Italian cooking could be learned from my family and relatives back in Italy. Over the years, I came to realize that my own prejudices with Italian food might be getting in the way of my learning new techniques or ideas, especially after I discovered the works of a very talented (and now very famous) chef named Rick Bayless.

The braised beef taco recipe below might be from an Italian guy, but it’s got an authentic Mexican flavor.

Rick is a great chef, specializing in Mexican cuisine (he now owns and operates several really great restaurants in Chicago). I learned that he did not grow up with a Mexican grandmother or mother. He did not start out with preconceived notion of what made for great Mexican food and how it had to be prepared.

Bayless’ food had all the magic and soul of the food made by mothers and grandmothers all over Mexico. He utilized the techniques and styles from all the country’s regions – a lesson that I took to heart. So I stopped believing that the only way to make gnocchi was to roll them on the back tines of a fork and that there were only two ways to make “authentic” tomato sauce. That in turn got me to begin looking beyond national boundaries. I started thinking about how much I enjoyed the food of other cultures; and if I enjoyed it, why not cook it?

That question opened my eyes to so many possibilities. I started a list of all of the styles and foods I wanted to explore. I wanted to open a bakery where Jewish rye and challah bread would be next to French and Italian specialties: that led to South Union Bakery. Also on my list: a pizza place and an Italian restaurant. I combined these two ideas to make Centro. Additionally, I wanted a French restaurant, which led to Django. A European-style grocery (Gateway Market) and “burger joint” (Zombie Burger) were added to the list a little further down the road. Last on my original list is a Mexican place… still working on that one!

The point is that you can make Jewish rye if you’re not Jewish, pizza if you’re not Italian and boeuf bourguignon if you’re not French. A good example is my friend Sam Auen of Tacopocalypse, whose outstanding tacos are worth waiting in line for at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market .

Sam’s excellent tacos inspired me to try my own. So here goes… enjoy these tacos with the works, brought to you by an Italian guy!

BRAISED BEEF TACOS

  • 1 Angus beef chuck roast (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups flour (for dredging the beef)
  • 1/4 cup oil (more if needed)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon leaf thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can fire roasted tomato

Advance work:

The night before you’re serving the tacos, salt the beef with 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt, seal it in a large plastic baggie and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day:

Heat a large Dutch oven and add the oil. Dredge the meat chunks in the flour and shake off excess flour. Add the meat to the Dutch oven and cook them until they’re nicely browned (the pieces will not be cooked thoroughly) – do this in two batches.

Mix all of the remaining ingredients and place them into the Dutch oven. Add the browned pieces of meat and stir. Turn the mixture to high just long enough to heat the contents of the pot and then bring the heat back down to low. Stir occasionally and cook until the meat is tender and falling apart, which should take about 2.5 to 3 hours. It’s nice to chop meat and add it back to the sauce!

Serve with flour or corn tortillas, chopped white onion, guacamole, chopped cilantro and a fresh lime wedge.

Roasted tomato salsa works splendidly with these tacos.

ROASTED TOMATO SALSA
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut in half
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 Pablano pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stem removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespooons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (if using table salt, use less)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Heat a large pan on the stove and add olive oil. Throw in the tomato, onion, poblano, jalapeño and garlic. Cook on high heat without stirring until the vegetables start to brown. Add salt, oregano, chipotle powder and ancho powder and remove from heat.

Next, add your cilantro and vinegar. Transfer the mixture to a blender or use a stick blender and blend smooth. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and chill the salsa in the fridge.

This salsa is great on tacos, meats (such as roasted chicken, lamb or steak) or with tortilla chips.

Mexican style pinto beans will deliver a flavorful kick. My mashed bean recipe is below.

BEST RECIPE FOR BEANS

  • 2 cans pinto beans (use Goya brand from Gateway); do not drain
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (you could also use lard or bacon fat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a heavy pot or pan on medium heat; when the pan is sufficiently heated, add the oil.
Add onions and do not stir. Let the onions cook until visibly browning on edges; once that happens, you’re good to stir. Continue cooking until onions are browned, then add pepper and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add beans with liquid and smash the mixture with a potato masher. Turn the heat to low, and cook until the beans are heated through.
Garnish the beans with melty Mexican style cheese (Chihuahua), and serve on the side of the meat. Note: You can add cooked chorizo, chicharron or bacon on top of these beans for extra flavor.

This recipe works well in a slow-cooker or Crock Pot (just simmer on low for a few hours).