Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe: Black Beans Like You Get in Miami

I grew up in Miami, Florida. We didn't eat black beans at home but we would get them at Cuban restaurants and there were LOTS of those around! I no longer live in Miami but there are restaurants nearby where we can pick up a to go order of black beans and rice, so the kids eat them frequently. Black beans are, in fact, the only bean The Wild Child will eat. I decided to try my hand at making black beans from scratch and asked The Wild Child to help me. He told me flat out while we were working on them "I'm not going to eat these". Sigh. I forged ahead anyway, knowing that he doesn't kid about these things, and there is no way on this earth that I'm going to get him to eat these black beans. They soaked all day and simmered all evening. I added all sorts of seasonings and yummy flavors, and they turned out to be pretty good. Guess I picked up how to make them by osmosis, because I made up the recipe as I went along. Martha Jr. proclaimed them better than the ones we get for take out. In fact, we all liked them... except for The Wild Child, who will not, Sam I Am, eat green eggs or black beans.

Here's the recipe I came up with. It's probably pretty similar to other black bean recipes since they taste like... black beans. Please excuse the inexact measurements; I'm a throw things in the pot and see what happens kind of a cook.

Black Beans From Scratch

1 package dry black beans
Olive Oil, about a tablespoon
Bay leaves, 3 or 4
Pepper to taste, about a teaspoon (or a few grinds of the pepper mill)
Garlic powder to taste, about a teaspoon

Salt to taste, or about one to two teaspoons (the bouillon cube will add some salt so don't go too crazy)
Vegetable bouillon cube, 1 large
Butter, about a tablespoon (optional)
Cumin, about a teaspoon or to taste
Garlic, two cloves, crushed and peeled*

Sort through the beans and rinse. Soak for several hours in a covered container with water covering the beans by at least an inch or two. Add more water if needed so that they stay covered; they will expand a lot. When the beans are ready to cook, drain and place them in a pot with a lid and cover with water once again by an inch or two. Add olive oil, bay leaves, pepper, and garlic powder. VERY IMPORTANT- DO NOT ADD SALT UNTIL BEANS ARE TENDER. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook (stirring and testing and checking that there's enough water in the pot every now and again) until tender, probably about an hour. (But I didn't time them, I just checked on them every time I walked through the kitchen. You can tell when you stir if they are still hard or not by the way the beans hit the spoon as it goes around the pot, so that's a good indication of when to start checking them.) Add more water as needed, but not too much at the end of cooking time so you don’t thin the broth. When the beans are soft add the rest of the ingredients. Continue cooking at a simmer until the bouillon cube is dissolved and the flavors are incorporated. Serve over rice.

*I added the garlic cloves with the salt and other ingredients after the beans were tender only because I thought of it then. You could probably skip the garlic powder and add the cloves when you first start cooking the beans.

According to one cooking show you can also stop cooking as soon as the beans are tender, drain them, and store them in the freezer for later use. I haven't had success with this yet but it's a great idea. (I've only tried it once with a different kind of bean and I think I failed because I cooked them too far past "just tender"; they were mushy and difficult to work with.) With the BPAs lining all of our canned goods now it's a good idea to cook beans from scratch, and if you have a stock of them in the freezer that makes it just as convenient as canned. Plus a lot cheaper!!

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