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This pinto beans recipe can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon. A final flourish of sharp Cotija cheese, cilantro, and pickled onions adds color and texture.
- 1 1/2 lb. dried pinto beans (4 cups), rinsed
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 jalapeños, seeded, minced, divided
- 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (4 oz.; for garnish)
- Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)
- Pickled Onions (click for recipe)
Place beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 4". Let soak overnight. Drain beans.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in same large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon to pot and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. drippings from pot. Add onion, garlic, and 1 minced jalapeño and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add drained beans to pot. Pour in enough water to cover beans by 2" (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water by 1/2-cupfuls if dry, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Stir in remaining jalapeño and reserved bacon. Season to taste with salt.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving, adding additional water as needed if dry.
Transfer beans to a large bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro and serve with pickled onions.