I wanna be a cowboy
And you can be my cowgirl
So sang pop-rock band Boys Don’t Cry in the hit 1986 single I Wanna Be A Cowboy. Deep? Meaningful? Maybe not, but hey—that’s not what pop’s about and anyway, you’ll wanna be a cowboy (or cowgirl) too once you’ve tasted Lesley Russell’s take on this south-west American frontier favourite.
Smoky chipotle and speck add some campfire friskiness to this spicy, easy dish that leaves ordinary baked beans for dead. The Texan cowboys of old probably carried dried beans in their saddlebags prior to the popularisation of canned products but this recipe is way quicker if you simply pull a tin of beans out of the pantry.
Finished with the classic Tex-Mex accoutrements of grated cheese and sour cream, it’s a nutritious, inexpensive crowd-pleaser that only gets better with time in the fridge to let the flavours settle in and mingle.
It’s also fabulously flexible. Choose cannellini beans if you prefer them, and if you need the dish to be vegetarian it will still taste great without the speck. Lesley’s recommended chipotle quantity will deliver a medium heat. You can leave out the chipotle but if you want more fire, go for it—more ground chipotle is fine. Just take care, unless you’re a hard-core heat freak.
These beans make a filling family dinner or a handy in-the-pot supper that can be dished out bit by bit as and when hungry people show up. Use any leftovers for a kick-ass brunch: Lesley assures us it’s “sensational on toast with avocado”. Pull on those cowboy boots, turn up the music and get cooking.