Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Cook Black (Dry) Beans

First of all, let me apologize to Kami, whom I owe this recipe to.  A few weeks ago we were at Happy Hour and I was talking about how much more authentic (not sure if I mentioned ECONOMICAL) it feels to cook beans from scratch (dry).  She asked me to send/give her a recipe, and I've owed it to her ever since.  It's a good thing she reminded me today, or I may never have gotten around to it!  Before getting to that recipe, however, let me tell you about a few things coming up (partly to get you excited, but mostly to keep track of what I've been cooking/eating and not forget to post about it).

  1. Lunch at a Thai restaurant near PCC Cascade.
  2. Learning Garden Harvest Party 
  3. Today's Organics to You bin contents
So......without further ado:

Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

1 lb package of dry black beans
1 small onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Salt (or Adobo seasoning from Goya) to taste
1/3 of a bunch of cilantro


First, you'll need to presoak the beans.  The overnight method requires that you soak the beans in a pot for 8-10 hours (make sure there's lots more water in the pot than beans - they should be covered by at least 2-3 inches of water as it will be soaked up by the beans.)  The quick-soak method  requires that you cover the beans by as much water, but then bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat source, cover, and let sit/soak for 1 hour before moving on.

After the beans are presoaked, you'll need to drain away the nasty soak-water and replace with fresh water.  For a 1lb bag of beans, I'd use about 6 cups of water.  (For extra extra flavor, use some sort of broth instead of plain jane water).  At this point I'd add the onion - either halved or quartered, and the cloves of garlic - lightly smashed to release the flavor.  

Bring the pot to a boil at high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for about an hour or hour and a half (do you like your beans al dente, tender, or straight-up mushy????) About 45 minutes into the process (when the liquid starts to thicken,) it's time to add the other seasonings.  If you can find Adobo, go for it!  Otherwise, salt is just fine.  Finally, add the cilantro, but not all chopped up....you don't want it in your teeth, you just want the flavor to infuse.  

Once your beans are done, you are ready to enjoy them atop a lovely mound of white rice, as a base for a black-bean soup, or mashed up in a pan as a "refried" version which goes super well with sweet plantains and sour cream. Mmmmmmm.   Makin' me hungry......


People sometimes use these ingredients to flavor their beans.  I have used/tried all of them and do also throw them in if I have them in the house.  Any or all of them are good depending on your taste.

1. Chopped green bell pepper
2. Cumin
3. Ham hock, thick bacon, etc.
4. Bay leaf
5. Jalapeno (or juice from pickled jalapenos).

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