How often do you cook with beer, wine, or liquor? It’s not unusual to catch me cooking with a glass of wine in hand (in fact, it’s pretty common). But, for some reason, my favorite cabernet hardly ever makes it into a recipe. It really should! Wine adds incredible depth and flavor to sauces, soups, and stews. As it turns out, so does beer.
I’m not a big beer drinker anymore; it makes me super bloated and gives me a terrible headache. But, I still love the flavor. In one of my deep dives down an Internet rabbit hole, I discovered a way to enjoy beer without a monster hangover: drunken beans. Here, we use beer to simmer pinto beans with a bunch of spices and spoon it over a bowl of creamy polenta. Swoon.
This hearty and satisfying dinner covers the three Bs: beer, beans, and (vegan) bacon. I totally just made up that three Bs thing, but the flavors do go amazingly well together. Drunken beans (a.k.a. burracho beans, burracho means drunk in Spanish) are traditionally made with a dark lager-style beer and bacon. I say use whatever beer you have leftover in your fridge and (obviously) opt for vegan bacon.
I recommend springing for the fancy vegan bacon in this recipe. Sweet Earth Hickory & Sage Benevolent Bacon is seriously delicious. Sweet Earth has a handy tool on its website that shows you where you can purchase Benevolent Bacon in your area. I found it at Whole Foods in the refrigerated section near the tofu and other meat alternatives. Meijer carries it as well, though it was out of stock at my local store.
Our Drunken Pinto Beans over Creamy Polenta makes a terrific weeknight dinner. The beans are relatively hands-off and the polenta only requires the occasional stir to prevent clumping and sticking. Garnish with extra cilantro, green onion, and a squeeze of lime!Print
Our Drunken Pinto Beans over Creamy Polenta makes a terrific weeknight dinner. Garnish with extra cilantro, green onion, and a squeeze of lime!
For the drunken beans:
- 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 cup onion, small diced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 15.5-oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 12-oz. can or bottle of Mexican beer (or 1½ cups of low-sodium vegetable broth)
- 1 5.5-oz. package of vegan bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Sweet Earth Hickory & Sage Benevolent Bacon)
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Juice of ½ lime
For the polenta:
- 1½ cups of water
- 1 cup of plain, unsweetened almond milk
- ¾ cup of polenta corn grits (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 Tbsp. of vegan butter
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Chopped cilantro, green onion, and lime wedges
- Warm a teaspoon of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
- Add the pinto beans, diced tomatoes, maple syrup, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the skillet; stir to combine. Pour in the beer or vegetable broth and turn to medium heat. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has cooked off. When done it should be the consistency of chili.
- Meanwhile, in a smaller skillet, heat the other teaspoon of olive oil. Add the vegan bacon and cook until browned and slightly crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cooked vegan bacon and any leftover oil to the skillet with the pinto beans. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and adjust flavors to taste.
- To cook the polenta, combine the water and almond milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Slowly stir in the polenta. Return to a simmer and cook until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir in the vegan butter and season with salt.
- To serve, divide the polenta between four bowls and top with a generous scoop of drunken beans (you’ll have leftovers). Garnish with extra cilantro, green onion, and a lime wedge.
Omit or halve the jalapeño if you’re sensitive to heat.
Tip: Eat leftover drunken beans for breakfast in our recipe for Vegan Chilaquiles!