Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Long Awaited Guatemalan Dish of Piloyes

When I lived in Guatemala, only one time in all that time, were Piloyes con Chorizo served. I absolutely loved them, but never really knew what Piloyes were, except that they are beans. This last and only time I ate this dish was before 1973!

After all these years, in doing some research I learned that Piloyes are runner beans. Runner beans come in many many types and colors. According to one place I read, the ones used in this dish are Scarlet Runner Beans. Scarlet Runner Beans produce a lovely scarlet flower, and are often grown for how pretty the flowers are, but they do produce edible beans, and can be cooked fresh or dried. 

Rancho Gordo Beans and Chorizo Quijote
As it happens, I had been wanting to make these beans, to see if I still loved them as much as I did all those years ago. I might have actually ordered the Scarlet Runner Beans, had I gone straight to the site where they are available. The site is www.ranchogordo.com. There are so many wonderful looking and sounding beans; heirloom varieties, some that have nearly died out, or are less easy to produce. As it happens, I was online looking to order something entirely different: Weck jelly jars. While on the particular site, I looked around to see what else was available, and they had a small assortment of Rancho Gordo beans, so I ordered a sampler of 4 varieties, one of which is a very large bean, deep reddish and with some spots, called Ayocote Morado. 

Ayocote Morado Beans and Air Dried Chorizo
There is a 5-type-of-bean sampler available at Amazon, here. None of these types are either this Ayocote Morado or Scarlet Runner Beans. Going to their website is the one way to really see the scope of what these people are doing. Someone complained on Amazon that these beans are too expensive. Maybe. But one certainly cannot go to any grocery store and find them, so online it is. 

Anyway, back to my Piloyes. I found also that the reason that the beans used in Guatemala were called Piloyes are because of the root word "pilo" meaning pole. Pole = runner beans - AHA! These Ayocote Morado beans I used for the dish are also runner beans, and also very large beans. I did not soak them. BIG mistake. I am used to putting on a pot of black beans or navy beans and having them cooked through in about 3 hours, with no soaking. These huge beans took a solid 8 hours of cooking until they were done. Needless to say, we ate something else for dinner that night, because they were just plain not ready yet! A word to the wise: soak the beans overnight!

Piloyes con Chorizo with avocado
The recipe is very simple, really, and requires few ingredients. Unfortunately two of the main ingredients, namely the beans and the chorizo are hard to come by up here. I covered the beans, but then there is the chorizo. There is no Mexican store up here anymore, and the only kind of chorizo available is a soft variety that is in a tube - a soft variety that would never hold its shape while cooking with the beans. What is required is a Spanish style, air-dried, preferably, that has great flavor and can be sliced, like a good dried salami. The chorizo makes a huge difference in how this comes out. I ordered some Spanish chorizo at a somewhat ridiculous price though it was not the best, (the best was even more prohibitive). If you live somewhere with great air-dried chorizo available, I encourage you to try this recipe. The chorizo was the meat in the meal when I ate this in Guatemala, but can be made with less chorizo, only to give good flavor.

Piloyes con Chorizo (Runner Beans with Chorizo)

makes a large pot
Piloyes con Chorizo, with avocado

1 pound large runner beans, soaked overnight
1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Water to cover (about 8 cups)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
chorizo, as desired (mine was 11.5 ounces)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 - 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt, if needed

Wash, and sort the beans and soak in water to cover by at least 2 inches overnight. Place the beans in a large pot with the thyme and bay leaf and cook, with about 8 cups of fresh water, for about 1 or 2 hours, until beginning to get cooked. Add in the tomato paste and the chorizo, sliced as desired and continue cooking until the beans are tender.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until at least tender, or at most deep golden, and then add them in with the beans and simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes to meld flavors. 

When I made these, I added no salt at all during cooking, and when I tasted the finished beans, they did not need salt, probably due to the chorizo. Add salt at your own discretion.


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

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