I’ll admit it, I never really “got” black beans. I remember when they started regularly appearing on menus. They were the envogue new healthy alternative protein. I would hear people order black beans like they were something special. Sure, I liked them, but I just didn’t understand what was so exciting about them.
Enter my husband…
I mentioned the time we went to the Cuban restaurant, Versailles in Part I. He talked about the black beans that night. I ate them. I enjoyed them. However, I still didn’t really understand just how delightful they could be.
It wasn’t until my husband took me one Christmas to meet his family. We arrived on Noche Buena, and the festivities were in full swing. A family friend, Miguel had prepared the beans. He took me under his wing and told me all about his grandmother’s recipe and the memories that came with the food.
We talked and talked, and then I tasted. These were different. They were creamy and flavorful. Just the aroma from them was intoxicating. I could smell the fiber of the beans, combined with garlic, cumin and wine. Oh! Wine! Yum!
That night I finally understood. That night, I decided I must conquer making black beans. Miguel kindly emailed me his grandmother’s recipe.
Now here’s the thing: black beans seem like they should be easy. They’re not. I must have tried making black beans half a dozen times before finally owning them.
I tried soaking the beans overnight and cooking them for hours. Somehow, they were never the right consistency and were always a little too al dente. It wasn’t until my sister-in-law gifted me a pressure cooker for Christmas, that I finally cooked the beans perfectly.
As for the seasoning, I can make beans without the Goya Recaito, but it definitely adds that little something to them. The other thing that took me awhile to understand was, the finer the onions, garlic and bell pepper are chopped, the more they can integrate their flavors into the beans. I’m talking they should be mashed up almost into a paste. If you can’t chop that finely, take an immersion blender to them. Trust me, you will be happy you did it.
Finally, once I mastered the beans, I found I could experiment with different things to put in them. I’ve added pork sausage, salsa verde and even bacon!¡Delicioso!
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
- 2 cups dried black beans
- 7 cups water
- 1 jar Goya Recaito (optional)
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons to drizzle over the beans when finished)
- 2 bay leafs
- ½ cup cooking wine
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Place the beans and water on the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes (if you don’t have a pressure cooker, soak the beans overnight with some onion. Discard the water and refill with fresh water. Bring to a boil, then bring the temperature to low. Cover and cook until the beans are tender – about 1 to 1 ½ hours.)
- Chop the bell pepper, onion and garlic into almost a paste.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and simmer the bell pepper, onions and garlic until they are clear and tender. If you are using the Goya Recaito, you can add it to the pan now. Then add cumin, oregano and black pepper. Bring to a boil.
- When the beans are tender, add the bell pepper/onion/garlic mix and stir in. Add the bay leaf and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Spoon out about 1 cup of the beans and mash them. Pour them back into the pot and add the cooking wine and vinegar. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Finally, add the salt and sugar. Then drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Serve immediately or let stand for 10-15 minutes to soak in the flavors.