Black beans are one of my favorite comfort foods. They remind me of time spent in Latin America, and as one of the first meals I started cooking for myself that was successful. I used to make rice and beans all the time. In fact, I have a couple of previous posts up about black beans. I used to buy them in a can, and then I switched to dried beans, because they are cheaper and there is no worry of BPA. However, it was hit or miss for me to get soft, creamy beans out of dried beans. Sometimes they would be soft but separate, sometimes a little too hard still, but rarely the kind you can get from good Hispanic restaurants.
Recently I have had much more success. I made them last night, and could have eaten just a plate of these black beans. It’s a two day process to get them this good. First you soak them for at least eight hours (I usually do it overnight). Then you drain the water and cover them with new water. Add salt, bring them to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer. After about an hour, they will be soft. But! You can’t stop there. If you drain all the water now, they will be pebbly, and not the nice creamy texture that makes them so delicious. If you plan to eat them later, dump all the beans and the water into a container and refrigerate them. When you are ready to cook them, saute the garlic and onions, then add the beans plus all the water and slow simmer them. The beans will absorb the extra water and turn out just perfectly.
Black beans are versatile. You can pair them with a bit of meat or stay all vegetarian. Serve them over rice, in soup, with a side of quesadillas (my favorite is sharp cheddar and crushed red pepper on whole grain tortillas), or put them in burritos or enchiladas. I usually cut up an avocado to have on the side. You can also do a pico de gallo (fresh salsa) to serve on top, or a dollop of sour cream. So many options.
Perfect Black Beans
About 1 1/2 cups dried black beans
Place black beans in a large pot and cover with water. Let soak for at least eight hours. Drain water, and cover again with fresh water. Add 2-3 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about an hour, until soft. At this point, I usually turn off the heat and let them cool for an hour. Once cool, I put them in the refrigerator until ready to use, or, if I’m ready to use them, I do. But the extra soaking time helps keep them soft. Don’t discard the cooking water, because doing so dries out the beans.
About 4 1/2 cups cooked beans, with liquid
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add beans with most or all of liquid. Bring to a boil.
2 roasted jalapeno peppers, or 1 raw, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Add above ingredients and stir. Reduce heat to low, or medium low, and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. This will take about 30 minutes, depending on how much liquid was in there. Taste and see if more salt is needed.
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