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Frijoles Borrachos (Monterey style 'drunken' beans)

"Beer adds an earthy dimension to beans. These frijoles are particularly popular around Monterrey, Mexico's third-largest city and its brewery capital. Don't use a dark beer in the beans, because it can make them too bitter." From The Border Cookbook

  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 5 cups water, or more as needed
  • 3 cups beer
  • 4 ounces salt pork, chopped, or 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, preferably cider
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste


Pick through the beans and rinse them carefully, looking for any gravel or grit. Rinse the beans a second time.

Place the beans in a stockpot or large, heavy saucepan. Cover them with the water and beer and add the remaining ingredients, except the salt. Bring the beans just to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans, uncovered. Plan on a total cooking time of 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

After 1 hour, stir the beans up from the bottom and check the water level. If there is not at least 1 inch more water than beans, add enough hot water to bring it up to that level. Check the beans after another 30 minutes, repeating the process. Add the salt after the beans are well softened, and continue simmering. Check them every 15 minutes, keeping the level of the water just above the beans. There should be extra liquid at the completion of the cooking time, but the beans should not be watery. If you wish, remove 1/2 to 1 cup of the beans, mash them, and return them to the pot for a thicker liquid.

Serve warm. The beans keep for several days and are even better reheated.

Serves: 6 to 8

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Reprinted with permission from ©1995 Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, The Border Cookbook, published by Harvard Common Press   back to book review

"The dappled pinto bean, a relative of the kidney bean, takes the honors as the leading legume of the borderlands. In Texas alone, farmers grow some twenty thousand acres of pintos, but the state still has to import more than a hundred million pounds of the beans each year." From The Border Cookbook

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