REFRIED BEANS WITH CHEESE AND PORK : Frijoles Puercos
Sinaloa is famous for its wonderful seafood specialties, but I vividly remember the devastatingly rich, unctuous, pork-laden frijoles puercos (literally, “pork beans”) that were served like clockwork at every meal, as if to balance out all that healthy fish. Dark brown and very smooth, frijoles puercos are beans mashed with soft Chihuahua cheese, pork, and more pork in the form of fresh rendered lard (asiento), spicy chorizo, chicharrón (pork skin deepfried
in lard), bacon, shredded pork, and goodness knows what else as long as it once went “oink.” Actually, to reframe Mae West’s famous line, goodness has nothing to do with it. Keep the rest of the meal light.
½ cup shredded Carnitas (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lard or bacon drippings
¼ cup very finely minced white onion
1 slice bacon, finely minced
½ cup pork chorizo, crumbled (about 5 ounces)
3 cups cooked pinto, bayo, or pink beans with their cooking liquid
¾ cup shredded Chihuahua (menonita) or Muenster cheese
¼ cup crumbled chicharrón
⅓ cup sliced pickled jalapeño chiles
1 tablespoon toasted and crumbled guajillo chiles
Reheat the carnitas in its juices in a large uncovered skillet or in 350ºF oven until hot and a bit dry and crisp around the edges. Keep warm.
In a large skillet, heat the lard over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until the chorizo is well- browned and crumbly.
Add 1 cup of the beans and their liquid to the pan and mash to a smooth paste (this will be easier if the beans are warm). Return the skillet to the heat and continue to add the remaining beans, 1 cup at a time, mashing them until smooth and adding liquid as needed until the beans are very smooth and fairly thick.
Just before serving, stir the cheese into the beans, a little at a time, until the cheese is melted and absorbed by the beans. Spoon the beans into a serving dish. Top with the carnitas then sprinkle the chicharrón, jalapeños, and crumbled chiles on top. Serve hot.