It seems these days that beans get kind of a bad rap. Most people don't like eating beans in their burritos, let alone by themselves. And maybe it's because we're all eating those crappy canned beans these days. They're really nothing compared to what I'm about to share with you. But I dare you to try it... announce that you're serving beans for dinner and you're likely to hear groaning. At least that's what happened to me. But that quickly stopped after he tried a bite of it.
...because holy smokes. Not even I never imagined such a simple dish could be so damn delicious.
Though it isn't exactly a quick recipe - what with the 8+ hours of soaking and the hour and a half of simmering - it is so easy. And it's so worth the wait. It's really quite amazing that so few ingredients could deliver such amazing flavor, but they do! Combined with fluffy garlic rice, these beans make a full meal that satisfies on so many levels. And if you're looking for a way to feed a crowd on a budget, look no further. The recipe as listed makes a lot of food... you could easily halve it and still have plenty to go around! But whatever you do, make these beans. You will totally be glad you did.
Cuban Black Beans and Rice
from A Taste of Old Cuba
yields 8-10 servings
For Cooking the Beans
1 pound dry black beans
2 1/2 quarts of water
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed but left whole
1 large slice of onion
To Complete the Beans
1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
For the Rice
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups long grain rice
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
Soaking and Cooking the Beans
1. Place the beans in a colander and rinse them under cold running water, removing any impurities.
2. Transfer the beans to a large pot, over them with the water, and soak for at least 8 hours.
3. Add the bell pepper, garlic, and onion to the pot and bring it to a boil.
4. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook the beans until they are tender, about 1 hour (check them after about 45 minutes, though, for some black beans require less cooking time). Skim the foam from the top of the pot periodically with a fine-slotted spoon.
Completing the Beans
1. While the beans are cooking, warm the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Saute the onions and green pepper until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes more.
2. Remove this sofrito from the heat and place half of it in the food processor. Add a large ladleful of cooked beans and pulse until pureed.
3. Stir the puree, the remaining sofrito, the bay leaf, and sugar into the beans. Bring the beans to a boil again, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the cooking liquid has the consistency of thick gravy. Stir frequently so that the beans do not stick to the bottom of the pot.
4. Just before serving, remove the bay leaf, stir in the vinegar, and, if desired, a little more olive oil to further enhance the flavor and texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the Rice
1. Press the garlic with the side of a knife to crush it lightly.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Saute the garlic until browned but not burned, and discard it if desired or leave in if preferred.
3. Add the rice and stir lightly. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the rice is well cooked but not mushy.
4. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.