Black Beans – Frijoles Negros
I live in south Florida and growing up here you eat a lot of black beans, some good, some bad and some are great. The great ones nearly always come from smaller Cuban restaurants cooking the food they grew up on, and they are awesome. I have tried for years to get some of that flavor in my beans, and this is pretty much as good as I am going to get. I take a big short cut at the beginning that I have been told most Cubans don’t I use canned beans, so shoot me. For me having good black beans at home is convenience and comfort food, lots of protein and fiber that tastes like my childhood. In the days before I got married I would often throw a pot of beans on the stove before I hopped in the shower after long day and call them dinner when I got out. Now with a whole family to feed black beans are a hearty side dish everyone likes and the leftovers disappear scooped on chips or over leftover rice as an after school snack. I normally cook the beans on the stove top, but if I am roasting a whole fresh picnic ham I will often let the beans roast alongside the meat all day to make my life even easier.
A quick note on the cubanelle peppers in this recipe, that is a me thing. I love bell pepper but they don’t love me, one bite of bell pepper and I am reaching for the Tums, so when I cook black beans at home I swap the bell pepper for the cubanelle to save myself some pain. Traditionally the green bell peppers are used.
3 Cans black beans, don’t drain them
1 large Spanish or yellow onion, diced
2 large cubanelle or green bell peppers, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced fine
1 cup wine (any color) or beer
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
Rice, sweet onion and cilantro to serve with
Sauté the onion and peppers in a drizzle of olive oil until soft. Deglaze the pan with the wine or beer and then add in all three cans of the beans with the canning liquid. Next mix all the spices and the brown sugar into the beans. Bring the beans back to a soft boil. You can either let the beans simmer on the stove for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally or if you want to make the beans in the morning when you are getting a large cut of meat in the oven you can put the beans without a lid in the same low temperature oven for 3-5 hours.Before I serve the beans I pull about 1-1.5 cups of the beans out of the pot and smash them up with potato masher to help thicken the beans even more. Return the smashed beans to the pot and stir well. I serve my beans over rice with diced sweet onion and fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.