Let me explain. She started by pouring the dried pinto beans onto our yellow Formica kitchen table and then meticulously cleaning them one by one and removing broken beans and pieces of dirt. She’d place them in a strainer, wash them and then cook them with salt and water to rehydrate them until they were tender bits of goodness.
And then she added in all the rest of the yummy ingredients, including bacon, hamburger, and chorizo (spicy pork sausage), onions, peppers and a host of other spices. She simmered them for hours, and the aroma drove me crazy because I couldn’t wait to eat them. When her chili beans were done cooking, they were a rich brick color and when I finally took my first bite, time stood still, and I lost track of my surroundings as my taste buds cherished the delicious magical flavors and I was in food heaven!
During my childhood, Sundays were my favorite day of the week. Not because it was our official day of rest on the dairy farm, but because of my sweet Mama Rose’s special Sunday 5-star dinners.
Summer Sunday dinners were often barbeques with slow roasting marinated meats over an open oak wood fire, grilled french bread dripping in butter, Spanish rice and my favorite, my mama’s chili beans. You might be thinking, with this menu lineup, beans were your favorite?
The first time my husband joined our family for a Sunday barbeque, he couldn’t quite understand why I was so excited that my mama had made her legendary chili beans. I gave him a small bowl with a slice of grilled french bread. I saw his eyes almost pop out of his head when he took his first bite. And well, he had several bowls for dinner, and I’m not allowed to say how many that was, and he didn’t eat anything else. Thank goodness she always made a huge pot, so the rest of us still got some too.
The recipe can be found in my new book, Molé Mama; A Memoir of Love, Cooking and Loss.
Watch the step by step recipe video