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
- 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
- Wash and pick over the beans, removing wrinkled or shrunken beans.
- Make several cuts into the salt pork down to, but not through, the rind.
- 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.
- Cook for at least 2 hours. When the beans are soft (not mushy) but still hold their shape, they are done. Serve hot.