This one-pot Mexican dish is the epitome of comfort food — and it comes together in just 15 minutes

The German language gives and really gives. There are schadenfreudeof course, but there is also backpfeifengesicht (a slapped face) or fremdschämen (secondary discomfort). And then there is kummerspeck. It literally means “grief bacon”, but also refers to that extra weight you carry when you’ve done your share of sad food.

My bacon lately is mourning bacon. My eggs are mourning eggs. My cake is a mourning cake. Within less than 12 weeks of each other, my mother and mother-in-law recently ended their journey with dementia and passed away. I’ve spent a lot of time crying at various Cheesecake Factory locations in the tri-state area. At home, I catatonically made many meals, one of which really spoke to me. It’s not quite heartbreak lard. It’s pig beans.

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As described by Pati Jinich in her “Treasures of the Mexican Table”, puercos frijoles are a popular appetizer in Jalisco that you can easily recreate at home and “do as piggy as you want”. Soft refried beans are combined with meat and cheese and kicked in the pants with green olives and pickled jalapeños. My German side loves the briny zing that the olives and peppers bring to the whole dish to cut through the fatty richness – it’s basically mourning bacon with pickles.

Jinich prepares his piggy beans with homemade beans, bacon and chorizo. I heeded his advice for simplification and used canned beans. For the “Quick & Dirty” version, I also omitted the chorizo. You can freely add or substitute here – ham, cooked pork, sausage, you get the basics.


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However you prepare them, these beans come together in less than 30 minutes in just one pot – and they’re the epitome of comfort food in any language. Although traditionally served as an aperitif, you can enjoy them as a main course with a green salad and a perfectly balanced margarita. So gather your loved ones around the table, remember those who are not present and keep passing the chips.

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Recipe: Pig Beans (Frijoles Puercos)
Inspired by Pati Jinich”Treasures of the Mexican Table”

Ingredients

  • 2 cans refried pinto beans
  • 1/2 pound thick cut bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 1⁄3 cup chili-stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1⁄3 cup chopped pickled jalapeños, plus 1 tablespoon brine
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Cotija or Añejo cheese, or crumbled Queso Fresco
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

directions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add bacon and cook until just crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. (I put it on the tray I use to serve the dish.)
  3. Add the onions to the bacon drippings and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the refried beans and cook with the ingredients already in the pan, stirring until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (You can add a little water to loosen the mixture. It should be thick but not stiff.)
  5. Stir in olives, jalapeños and brine.
  6. Pour the mixture into a bowl or on a platter. Top with crispy bacon, your choice of cheese and additional onions and peppers, if desired.
  7. Serve with corn chips and a green salad, if you need a vegetable. Definitely end things with popsicles.

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