I like to make this with fresh Estancia pinto beans, mild red chiles, and one of New Mexico’s most exquisite treats: oryx. These striking-looking African antelopes, introduced to White Sands Missile Range for exotic game hunting in the 1960s (now so numerous that they outcompete native elk), yield a tender meat that melts into this rich stew. But if you haven’t recently been hunting in southern New Mexico, the recipe works equally well with lamb, venison, bison, or beef.



  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Salt, to taste


  • 8 dried red chiles (use some anchos for a thicker, milder sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 pounds oryx (or other red meat), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sugar, to taste

Serves 6–8


  1. Sort the beans and remove small stones and damaged or defective beans. Rinse the beans in several changes of water until the water runs clear.
  2. In a large saucepan or bowl, cover the beans with cold water and soak overnight in the refrigerator. For a quick soak, put the beans in a large saucepan, cover with 3 quarts of hot water, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour.
  3. To cook, cover the soaked, rinsed beans with fresh water. Put the coriander seed and bay leaves in a mesh tea ball or wrap them in cheesecloth and add them to the pot. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until tender, adding water if necessary, 1–2 hours (or longer if you have older beans or harder water, or you live at a higher elevation).
  4. Drain the beans, remove the spices, and add salt to taste.


  1. Break off the stems and shake out the seeds from the chile pods. Rinse them in several changes of warm water. Put the pods in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water, and rest 30 minutes. (Put a plate on top of the pods to keep them submerged.) Put the pods in a blender and puree with 1 cup of fresh hot water, or more if necessary.
  2. In a Dutch oven or thick-bottomed stockpot, brown the meat in half the lard, turning to get color on all sides. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining lard to the pot and add the tomatoes, stock, oregano, and cumin and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 1 hours. (Covered will produce a soupier stew, uncovered a thicker one—your choice.)
  3. Season stew to taste with salt and pepper. Add a little sugar if your chile puree is slightly bitter.
  4. Serve over hot pinto beans.