Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Garbanzo Cowboy Beans

This is the second recipe in my collection of vintage recipe remakes. I am taking old recipes from a collection of American cookbooks from different time periods and modernizing and updating them to make them healthier and inspire you to try them.

This cookbook contains vintage recipes during America's expansion to the West. Its filled with the influences of Spanish, Native American and campfire cooking. People during this time were exploring the Western parts of the United States in hopes of finding a cheap or free piece of land for themselves and their families. Not so surprising that they ran into the Native peoples of these areas and the culinary influences are apparent. The recipes boast bold, spicy flavors and humble, filling ingredients. This particular recipe has Spanish influences, known as frijoles charros or Cowboy beans; the beans were meant to keep a person filled during the long days that they would be on horseback or away from their homes. The recipe called for some old fashion ingredients including the juice from canned peaches as a sweetener. I imagine that sugar during this time might have been hard to come by or expensive and canned food traveled well. Besides they wouldn't have wanted to waste a single thing. I opted to use agave nectar because its a great smoky sweetener that pairs well with the bacon and cumin in the recipe. Another thing they didn't waste was leftover coffee, the recipe calls for  a small amount which helps to create a depth to the sauce and also adds to the pleasing smokiness of the dish. Using garbanzo beans not only modernized the recipe but they hold up nicely to the long cooking process and look gorgeous. They are super nutty and slightly sweet which made for an absolutely delicious stew.

For freshness I chose garlic scapes and cherry tomatoes which added great color and wonderful flavor. The tomatoes are creamy and tart while the garlic scapes are crunchy and fragrant, both worked beautifully. I fried an egg, broke the yolk over top, making the absolute perfect summer dinner. It hits all the taste buds on your tongue sweet, tangy, smoky, and salty. It was rich and satisfying, one of the best bean dishes I have ever made or eaten.

This recipe serves 6-8.
Adapted from the Westward Empire cookbook.


4 Slices pasture raised bacon, diced.
2 Tbsp additional bacon fat, butter can be substituted.
2 Cans (25oz) organic garbanzo beans, 4 small cans can be used. Do not drain.
1 Large, organic onion, diced.
6 Organic garlic scapes, diced.
4 Cloves organic garlic, smashed and roughly chopped.
1/3 Cup organic agave nectar
1/4 Cup organic apple cider vinegar
1/4 Cup dark, fair trade, organic, brewed coffee, I used a French Roast.
1 Organic, preferably fresh, bay leaf, dried is fine.
1 Bunch organic fresh thyme, tied in a bundle with kitchen twine.
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp organic ground cumin
1 Tbsp organic ground coriander
1 Tbsp organic dried oregano
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste.
1 Tbsp wild garlic mustard seeds, I foraged these out of my yard, they taste like black pepper, you can omit if you don't have them.
1 Pint organic cherry tomatoes


In a dutch oven, over medium high heat, melt the bacon fat and saute the bacon till it is just starting to crisp. Add in the onions, garlic, garlic scapes, some salt, pepper and bay leaf. Saute till the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients, except tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Do not add any additional salt just yet, it will make your beans tough.

Take off the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes to reduce and thicken. Remove the bay leaf and thyme bundle, taste for seasoning, salt and pepper if needed, and serve!

Serving suggestions: I like to fry an egg and place it on top and douse with siracha. You could also serve as a side dish to fried chicken or a large ribeye steak would be wonderful.


  1. Mmmmmm Bacon fat! LOL! Overall this sounds delish! YUM!

    1. They are incredible! I am totally in love with them! :)

  2. Thank you for sharing with our Walking on Sunshine FB page party! Would love for you to come to the BLOG this Friday and join our Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party!

    1. Thank you so much, I would love to but I have tried to do linky parties before and am super confused about them, I couldn't figure out how to link up haha! I will take a look this friday and try again! :)