I’ve been craving a truly tasty pot of Mexican beans. My foodie friends Sheryl and Bill, who will stop at nothing to perfect the recipes used in their home, told me the secret to authentic flavor is leaf lard. With my formidable years being in the 90s, I grew up when fat-free was in, carbs were king, and lard, well lard was a four letter word. Which made it all the more fun to head to the farmer’s market in pursuit of this new to me pantry staple. Maybe I’ll try it in a pie crust this summer.
I adapted these recipes from one of my very first cookbooks, that I’ve kept all these years. My copy of Mexican Favorites, by the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library and published in 1993, likely the year I bought it. And what do you know, their recipe for beans uses lard!
Mexican Pot Beans
1 cup dried black, pinto or pink beans
3 cups water
1/4 white onion
1 tablespoon lard
1 fresh cilantro sprig
1 large serrano chili pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Rinse dried beans under cold running water and place in a bowl. Add water to cover by 2 inches and soak overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans before placing in a heavy pot. Add water, onion and lard and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the beans are tender, about an hour. Once tender, add cilantro, chili and salt. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes longer, adding water if needed. Discard the onion, cilantro and chili.
At this point you have 3 cups of amazing black beans. Use them for burritos, rice bowls, tacos, salads, etc. Don’t be surprised if they taste best spooned right into your mouth from the pot. Or keep reading to make the black bean sauce…
Tortillas in Black Bean Sauce
3 cups pot beans (made with black beans)
8 corn tortillas
1 cup tomatillo salsa
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
Large handful cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
Place the black beans in a blender with their cooking liquid. Blend until they are the consistency of a sauce, adding water to thin if necessary. Transfer sauce back to the pot and warm.
In a dry skillet, heat the tortillas until pliable. Dip each tortilla in the sauce. Once coated, fold in half onto a plate. Use 2 tortillas per person. Garnish with tomatillo salsa, cheese, cilantro and green onion.