Cowboy Beans or Ranchero Beans, as they are most often called, are a delicious combination of red kidney beans, or smaller pinto beans, dried spices and some form of smoked pork thrown in for flavor. These beans are truly rustic and fun to make either indoors on the stove top, or in a slow-cooker, but I think they’re even more fun to make in a large pot on top of the grill.
The flavors are rustic and hearty and the beans need time to cook for a few hours to tenderize, and integrate with the other ingredients. Overtime, the beans get creamy and tender and are delightful anytime of the year, but especially during the summertime when you can serve them at an outdoor party, or on a camping trip with family.
Ranchero Beans are the perfect side dish served with grilled or roasted meat, burgers, and barbecue chicken, but they are filling enough to enjoy all by themselves. This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, so you can always freeze half for another date.
5 cups dried small red, pinto or kidney beans
1 white onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 smoked pork shank or ham hock
14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1. Place beans in a large pot with water to cover. Soak overnight, drain and rinse. In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and diced onion. Saute over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add cayenne, onion powder, cumin and smoked paprika, stir. Continue to cook for 2 minutes.
2. Add smoked pork shank or hock and soaked beans. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water to cover. Stir beans to combine and add bay leaves. Turn heat to low and cover beans with a lid, leaving it slightly a jar. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and break pork apart with a wooden spoon, removing bone before serving.
3. Serve Ranchero Beans family style, straight from pot. Enjoy!