Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taco Beans

It's been a while since I've done a food memory.  Like, over a year, I think.

Last week, groceries were a little "lean" in our house and so RCC had do scrounge something up for dinner for himself. 

Sidenote: don't you think Chopped would be so much better if the chefs had to cook out of a typical end-of-the-month cupboard?  You know, half a loaf of bread, moldy cheese, milk that's not quite bad, and a cupboard full of stuff that still in there because no one likes to eat it?  Not *that* would make a good show!

Anyway, he made himself some canned refried beans with spices in it and ate them with cold corn tortillas.  He made a joke about it on Facebook, saying he was eatin' like a poor man.  But when I came home and saw the beans he made and smelled the cumin, I knew I had to make some Taco Beans.

It took me a couple of days to get around to it, but I finally had my taco beans (alternatively called bean tacos or fried bean tacos, depending on who in the family you're talking to) today for lunch.  Truly, a poor man's lunch, but fabulous.  Grandma Mary used to make us taco beans when the larder was bare.  We always had beans and tortillas and spices, so we could always make taco beans.  I don't think she necessarily loved them, because she told me that Little Lita (her mom) would always make them when the beans went sour, just so they could get another day's meal out of them.

She may not have loved them, but they rank right up there with fried tacos for me.  And fried tacos are pretty much my all-time favorite Grandma Mary food on the planet. Top three Grandma Mary foods:
  1. Fried Tacos
  2. Taco Beans
  3. Potato Enchiladas
The thing is, with the exception of fried tacos, they're pretty much poor man's meals and I love them.  I've been craving Taco Beans since RCC made his bean thing, so when I came home from work for lunch I broke out Grandma's molcajete and went to work.

If you're interested, here's the recipe.  It's quick and easy and you can feed a fair number of people (remember, it's poor man's food).

  • garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • onion powder
  • pinto beans (already cooked or canned)
  • tortillas
  • lard
  • cheese
  • onion
Grind up the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and onion powder in the molcajete until it's a paste.  Add the beans and continue to mash/mix.  Season to taste.  I like my beans to take on a red hue from the chili powder and the cumin.

Once the beans and paste are well mixed, spread on one half of a tortilla with the back of the spoon, no more than 1/4" thick and fold in half.

In a skillet, heat the lard until hot enough to fry (about 1/4" or less should coat the pan).  Place the "tacos" in the hot lard.  Flip once to cook evenly on both sides.  It should take a minute or less on each side to cook through.

Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.  Gingerly pry open the tacos to add shredded cheese and chopped onion.

It's probably not the best thing on the planet to eat, but it's a whole heap healthier than a Big Mac, I'm sure.  I'm a big fan of lard, I make no apologies for it.  I don't cook with it often, but there are some dishes that *have* to be made with it.  If you wanted to make this a more healthy meal, I suppose you could substitute olive oil or something, but it won't taste as good.  But then, if you've never had taco beans, you wouldn't know the difference between cooking them in lard or olive oil.

My belly's happy and I've got a smile on my face - Grandma Mary may be gone, but I can still enjoy the memories of cooking my favorite foods with her.

What are your favorite comfort foods or food memories?


Allenspark Lodge said...

How great is that!


Rachel said...

Can I put in an official request that you put me to work in the kitchen "helping" with these next time we're up, so I can get a first hand education? Because they look delicious!