Throwing open my pantry for Latine Heritage month

Frankie Nadal, Features Editor

Rice, beans, tortillas and fajitas are ready for plating. Photo by Frankie Nadal / The Runner

As we come to the end of Latine Heritage month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, I think it rather appropriate to close off this “month” with a grand celebration.

Frijoles. Arroz. Tortillas. All from scratch. Top it off with some chicken fajitas, and you’ll feast for quite some time. Also, I am well aware that fajitas are a Tex-Mex creation but, and consider this a fun Latine history fact, it was still created by Mexican workers in Texas. So, without further ado, please gather the following ingredients and equipment for the recipes to follow, making sure to prep the ingredients before cooking.


  • 2 cups Pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • ½ an onion, peeled
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Water
  • Kosher Salt
  • Crockpot


  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup manteca/butter/shortening
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 2 tsps. Kosher salt
  • Pan
  • Large bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling pin or Tortilla Press


  • 2 cups rice, thoroughly washed and dried
  • ½ an onion, peeled
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tbsps. Oil
  • Pot
  • Spatula

Chicken Fajitas:

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced or cubed
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • ½ an onion, peeled and julienned
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic and onion powder
  • 2 tbsps. Oil
  • Sauté pan
  • Spatula

As this is a rather intensive process, we’ll start off with the beans, which are arguably the easiest portion of this recipe. After washing and sorting through your beans to remove broken or bad bits, pour them into the crockpot. Add the garlic and the onion, which I recommend you either half again or break up. Fill and cover with water, about an inch above the beans, and liberally salt. Cook on high for four hours.

While the beans are cooking, make the tortillas. It takes about two hours for this recipe, so plan accordingly. Bring the milk up to a simmer on the stove, and once simmering, stir in your fat of choice (I used butter) and let cool for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, mix your flour with the baking powder and salt. Then, once cooled enough, mix in the milk. Bring the dough together and knead for several minutes until it no longer sticks to your hands. Cover in plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour.

After an hour, divide the dough into 16 equal rounds. Keep the pieces under a damp towel or plastic wrap while you press or roll them into tortillas. Press or roll your tortillas out, roughly seven inches in diameter. If using a press, make sure it is greased or lined, and if using a rolling pin, regularly dust your work area with flour to prevent the tortillas from sticking. Cook these on the stove, preferably on a cast iron over a medium heat, for about 30 seconds on each side. Store them in a sealed container lined with a towel to keep them warm and soft.

Now, we move on to the rice. I recommend starting on this right before the fajitas. After having thoroughly washed your rice and letting it dry, set a pot on the stove over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the garlic and onion in it until it begins to blister and darken. Add the rice and toast for about a minute. Once slightly opaque, cover with the chicken stock and add a tablespoon or two of the tomato sauce (or to taste). Cover the pot with a lid and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, turning down the heat to medium-low, and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is soft and fluffy and the stock is evaporated.

Once the rice is simmering away, make the fajitas. Set the pan over a medium heat and add the oil when hot. Toss in the onion and sauté until translucent and softened. Add the bell pepper and jalapeño and continue to cook until fragrant and beginning to brown. Then, add the chicken and seasonings. Mix and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken has browned and is cooked through.

With everything fully cooked and prepped, it is time for us to feast. Beans and rice. Fresh tortillas for fajitas. Disfrute con amigos y familiares, o disfrute de suficientes sobras aptas para un rey.

Enjoy with friends and family, or revel in enough leftovers fit for a king.