Our family has a longstanding tradition of special birthday meals. On that one special day each year, we get to choose our favorite home-cooked dish for dinner. My longstanding choice for that special meal has always been my mom’s pinto beans. They are the bomb for two very good reasons. One, she cooks them down with copious amounts of roasted pork–the homey/economical cuts like a shoulder or those large, boneless country-style ribs. And two, she serves them nachos-style. She covers a dinner plate with Doritos and layers the beans and garnishes on top. We eat them with our fingers grabbing more Doritos as needed to scoop up every last drop of this amazing pork and bean combo. Growing up, we always ate them with the original taco-flavored Doritos. But when Frito-Lay stopped making them, we reluctantly settled for the nacho cheese variety. Today, I’m happy to report that the most perfect taco-flavored Doritos are back on the market. My kids however, who also choose this dish quite often as their special birthday meal, prefer the nacho cheese ones. I guess it’s just what they’re used to.
This recipe, like any good birthday celebration, takes a little planning. So be sure to set aside time for the beans to soak and the pork to roast. Trust me, it’s well worth the effort!
Pinto Beans Recipe
1 pound dried pinto beans (preferably Camellia brand)
8 cups water
4 to 6 cups shredded Roasted Pork Shoulder, see recipe
1 10-ounce can original Rotel tomatoes, with liquid
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
Doritos (nacho cheese or taco flavored), for serving
Shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped onions and grated sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish
Rinse beans thoroughly to remove excess dirt; pick over for stones. Place beans in a large bowl; cover with cold water and soak overnight. Or quick-soak them: place beans in a large pot of cold water, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover and set aside for 1 hour. Transfer soaked beans and liquid (“bean liquor”) to a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Add pork, Rotel tomatoes, onions and garlic. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 more minutes. Stir in oregano, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Continue simmering until beans are tender, an additional 30 to 60 minutes. Add additional water, if needed, to keep beans from scorching. Towards the end of the cooking time, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon (this will help create a creamy consistency). To serve, place a layer of Doritos on a dinner plate, ladle beans on top and garnish with lettuce, onions and cheese. Serves 8-10.
Roasted Pork Shoulder Recipe
1 3- to 4-pound boneless pork shoulder
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Water, for roasting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a sharp knife, make 6 small slits about 1 1/2 inches deep all over the pork roast. Using your fingers, plug a slice of garlic into each slit. In a small bowl, combine black pepper and next 7 ingredients (through cayenne pepper); rub pork with spice mixture. Place pork in a large roasting pan fat side up, add 1/2-inch of water to baking pan and cook covered for 1 hour. Remove cover and cook until tender or until pork registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees, an additional 60 to 90 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove excess fat and break meat up by hand (or shred with two forks). Skim fat from pan juices, return meat to pan and toss to coat with reserved juices. Serve warm. Serves 6-8.