Making a blended seasoning paste to add to the beans is a great way to punch up the flavor.
What to buy: We liked this recipe made with Dos Equis beer, but any lager will work. Just don’t use really dark beer.
Game plan: Be sure to soak the beans the night before you plan on making the dish. Also note that there are two steps to cooking the beans: First they are simmered until tender, then they’re cooked with the spice paste to add flavor.
This recipe was featured as part of our Build Your Own Burrito Bar menu.
- 1Pour the dried beans onto a rimmed baking sheet and pick through them, removing and discarding any broken beans or stones. Place the beans in a large nonreactive bowl and cover them with at least 3 inches of cold water. Allow to soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
- 2After the beans have soaked, drain in a colander. Place in a large heavy pot and cover with at least 2 inches of cold water. Place one half of the onion, the two celery and carrot halves, the garlic cloves, and the bay leaves in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the beans are almost completely tender but still a little starchy in the center, about 30 minutes. (The beans should not be completely done, as they will cook more later.)
- 3While the beans are cooking, remove the stems from the ancho chiles, slit them open, and shake out the seeds. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Place the chiles in the skillet and toast until slightly charred and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover with very hot water; allow to soak for at least 15 minutes, or until they are soft and pliable.
- 4While the chiles soak, return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and lightly toast until fragrant, about 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a blender; set aside.
- 5When the ancho chiles are ready, remove them from the soaking water (discard the water) and coarsely chop. Coarsely chop the remaining onion half and add it to the blender along with the chopped chiles, serrano pepper, tomato, oregano, 1/4 cup of the beer, and the measured salt. Blend into a smooth purée; set aside.
- 6Drain the beans and discard the onion, celery, carrot, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Place about 1 cup of the cooked beans in a small bowl. Use a large spoon or the back of a fork to coarsely crush them.
- 7Return the large heavy pot to the stove and heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the puréed mixture and fry it, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Mix in the crushed and whole beans and the remaining beer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and serve.