These beans taste like you’re on the Chisholm Trail fresh from a cattle drive. They’re a bunch of work, but they’re worth it, for the flavor is straight from the Old West—other than the Worcestershire sauce, that is.

Tip: Julia Child’s method of soaking beans is to cover them with plenty of water and boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover tightly, and let sit for 1 hour. Then drain and cook as usual.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients (12)

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, debris removed, soaked overnight, and drained (see the Tip)
  • 1/4 pound salt pork
  • 8 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 jalapeño chile peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce or ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Wash and pick over the beans, removing wrinkled or shrunken beans.
  2. Make several cuts into the salt pork down to, but not through, the rind.
  3. Combine the beans, salt pork, water, tomatoes, garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin, chile peppers, Worcestershire sauce, and barbecue sauce in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook very slowly, covered, stirring the beans up from the bottom occasionally and adding water if they start looking dry.
  4. Cook for at least 2 hours. When the beans are soft (not mushy) but still hold their shape, they are done. Serve hot.