Inspired by the canned variety sold by Frito-Lay (a guilty pleasure, I confess), this homemade version of an iconic Tex-Mex bean dip is way more delicious (without the dubious ingredients). I’d always soaked dried beans before cooking them until a couple friends (and accomplished bean cookers) convinced me to skip this step. Now I simply rinse beans and cook them on the stovetop at a very low simmer, the result is a deeper “bean” flavor and perfectly tender, creamy texture. Adding meat to the bean cooking liquid isn’t essential here, but it creates a richer stock and the added fat creates a luscious texture. I like to simmer pintos with a fresh turkey neck, but you could also use chicken necks, bacon, a ham hock, or a smoked wing or two. Stock up on corn chips and cold beer regardless—even a vegetarian version of this dip will please a crowd with its smoky bean-and-briny-jalapeño essence. You won’t need all the beans
for this dip. Serve the brothy, smoky leftovers in flour tortillas or alongside crispy fried eggs.
- Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high.
- When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, use tongs to remove the cooking grate and place a drip pan with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of warm water on the side with no coals, and add your smoke source (chips, chunks, or log). Return the cooking grate to its position, allow it to preheat, and then carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.
- To smoke dried peas, beans, or legumes, place them in a disposable aluminum pan or atop two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil (crimp the edges of foil upward to create a rim and prevent them from sliding off). When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the pan over indirect heat, close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and smoke for 25 to 40 minutes, until the peas, beans, or legumes are deeply fragrant and have darkened slightly. For even results, stir the ingredients and rotate the individual containers (if you’re smoking more than one item) around the heat after 15 to 20 minutes, and keep an eye on their color after 30 minutes to ensure they don’t become too dark.
- Place the dried beans in a large pot and rinse them a couple times with cold water. Drain the beans in in a colander and then return them to the pot with the onion, garlic, bay leaves (to taste), and turkey neck in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm). Bring the beans to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat to low and simmer until the beans are creamy and tender, about 1 hour, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. If time allows, let the beans cool in their broth (this slow cooling process creates an especially creamy texture). Drain the beans in a colander, reserving 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of the cooking liquid (discard any meat and bay leaves).
- Ladle 3 cups (500 g) of the cooked beans and the 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) reserved cooking liquid into a food processor. Add the jalapeño slices and brine, the hot sauce, chile powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne and blend until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more jalapeño brine or hot sauce as desired. Serve the dip either warm or chilled—it’s good either way—with the chips and beer.
Reprinted with permission from Thank You For Smoking, copyright © 2019 by Paula Disbrowe. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Johnny Autry
Paula Disbrowe is the author of Thank You for Smoking.