Southwest black bean stew with charred salsa

This is my version of a southwest black bean stew.  Similar to Brazilian black beans, it contains pork and meats.  Similar to a Mexican stew, it’s cooked in a broth highly seasoned with herbs, spices and dry peppers.  Similar to European stews, it incorporates a long duration meat braise.  In the end, you will result in a very aggressively seasoned, balanced and delicious stew, emphasizing the flavors of the south west.

Delicious is an understatement.

The flavors are uniquely developed, and cannot be replicated without putting in the time and doing it right.  Do not let this intimidate you.  Like many multi-step recipes, if you break it down into a few easy steps, the whole thing becomes simple and enjoyable.

There are 3 steps, and you can regard this as 3 recipes in one:

Step 1:  Make charred salsa

Step 2:  Braise beef

Step 3: Assemble and finish the stew

All steps can be done separate of each other, and step 1 can be done even two days in advance.  The best advise I can offer is to carefully read through the recipe before making it.  You will get a sense of the timing, and can therefore plan.  Again, it’s not difficult or complex cooking, it’s merely a series of recipes that result in your final dish.  Or, make the charred salsa and stop there.  It’s delicious on its own!

Southwest black bean stew with charred salsa

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Inactive cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 portions


1 pasilla chili
2 japapeno
4 tomatillos
1 red onion,
4 roma tomatoes
1 bunch washed cilantro
1 head garlic, minced
10 dried arbol (Mexican) chilis
1 tbsp whole corriander
1 tbsp whole cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
3 cups prepared chicken stock
8 each oxtails
1/2 lb excellent quality spicy Mexican bilboa chorizo
2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chili lime powder
kosher salt
black pepper
juice of 5 limes
8 organic eggs
3 tbsp distilled vinegar
queso fresco
1 ripe avocado
vegetable oil


Make the charred salsa:

In a mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes, tomatillos, pasilla, jalapenos, half the red onion and chorizo with a little vegetable oil, salt and pepper.  Grill until all pepper and tomato skins are charred and blistered.  The onions should also be slightly charred, and the chorizo should be cooked through.  Cool and refrigerate the sausage.  Let the vegetables come to room temp, roughly peel (leaving some peel is fine) and remove stems and seeds.  Process in a blender with a little lime juice, salt, pepper and 1/2 the cilantro.  Check seasoning and add lime or salt if needed.  Cool completely and reserve.  This can be done the day before.

Braise the Oxtails:

In a straight side heavy bottom saute pan, heat a little oil to high heat.  Salt and pepper the oxtails.  Sear them, all sides.  Rough chop the other half onion and add it while the meat is searing.  Add 1/2 the garlic, dry peppers and all dry spices.  Deglaze with chicken stock, season with salt and pepper.  The chicken stock should cover the oxtails by 75%.  Add a few tbsp of the charred salsa.  Simmer over low heat, flipping the meat every half an hour or so.  Let cook until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.  Remove meat and let cool.  Strain broth, remove fat carefully with a ladle, and return broth to a medium sized sauce pot.  Reduce by half.  While it is reducing, strip the oxtails of all meat, discarding bones, cartilage and fat.  Return the meat to the reducing sauce.  Slice the chorizo thinly and add to the reducing sauce.  When reduced by just over half, you are ready for the next step.

Prepare and finish the Stew:

In the saucepot with the reduced sauce, oxtail meat and chorizo, add 3/4 of the remaining charred salsa.  Reduce slightly.  Add juice of 2 limes, remainder of garlic and a a small amount of fresh rough chopped cilantro. Stir to incorporate.  Add black beans.  Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low,and cook until thick.  Reseason and finish with remaining chopped cilantro.

The stew is finished, to serve I recommend sliced avocado, queso fresco and a poached egg on top.  Grilled corn, tortillas and rice also go very well.  The remainder of the salsa is an excellent accompaniment.


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