Basic Black Beans
Black beans are the plain, little black dress of cooking. with the right accoutrements, you can take them anywhere. This particular recipe has a Latin flavor to it, but omit the chili and cumin and add ginger and star anise for a pronounced Asian flavor. Serve the beans in a bowl with the "pot likker" and they're a soup. purée them with broth or cream and they're a sauce. Marinate them in vinaigrette and they're a salad. The list is endless. Be creative. Dress them up and take them to town. Make them on a rainy day and freeze for a picnic. And whatever or whenever the occasion might be, these little black beans are always the hit of the of the party.
By the way, this recipe is the basis for making Crispy Black Bean Corn Cakes.
- 1/2 pound dried black beans
- 2 quarts water
- 1 onion
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 celery stalk with leaves, cut in thirds
- 1 carrot, cut in thirds
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
- 1 teaspoon powdered red chiles
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 sprigs epazote (optional)
Rinse the beans well and remove any foreign materials. Soak the beans overnight in a large pot of water, OR: Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water. Set the pot over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the beans sit for one hour.
Drain the beans in a colander. Rinse out the pot and return the beans to it. Quarter the onion and pierce the sections with toothpicks to hold them together. Add the onion and the remaining ingredients. Heat the pot over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, with the liquid just simmering, until done, approximately 1 hour. You may also cook the beans slowly in a beanpot or crockpot until tender.
Before serving, remove the ham hock, onion, celery, carrot, epazote and garlic. If desired, purée some of the beans with the pot liquid (known as the "pot likker") and return the purée to the pot as a thickener. You may also choose to purée some of the cooked vegetables and add them to the beans.
Drain the beans and serve Cuban-style, with steamed white rice. Put out cruets of olive oil and vinegar and let your guests pour these on top of their beans.
©1996, Katherine Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
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This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007