Sunday, August 30, 2009

black beans

I'm a bit loathe to post my black bean "recipe" here because after 23 years of making them fairly regularly, I don't pay attention to what I do.

But, black beans are a POWERHOUSE - they're super good for us, a cheap form of protein (even when organic), and just super darned yummy.

soak dry beans overnight in a crockpot with clean water (after washing them). Cover at least a couple inches above the beans level. Know that they will approximately double or triple in size, so don't overflow the crockpot or make too many (though, I frequently freeze leftovers and that works well too).

onions (dried are fine)
garlic, chopped up, or powder
epazote if you can find it
peppers: chili, bell, etc.
tomatoes (fresh or canned, or sauce/paste)
black pepper
Anything else your heart desires! (I think most important are the onions, cumin, and oregano.)

For two cups of dried beans I put in (everything approximate) 2-3 T dried onions (I don't buy them, but inherited from a friend moving away), four cloves garlic, 1 T cumin, 1+ tsp oregano, three pinches epazote, dash of cayenne, few grinds of fresh black pepper, five chopped of peppers that were sweet instead of hot); the point is that whatever you do will be yummy! I also freeze the last bits of salsa that's left when the beans run out, and I thaw & toss that into cook with the new pot of beans.

Note that I didn't include salt. When they're all ready, taste to see if salt is necessary (I find it never is) and add then. If you add during cooking, I'm told it makes the beans tougher.

Cook in the crockpot on high about 4 hours - but it really varies a lot depending on crockpot but also how old the beans are. Sometimes it can take more like 7 hours, sometimes less. I'm not picky about how firm they still are - it's fine if they start to disintegrate to me, but if it really matters to you you'll want to check. Before cooking check the water level - make sure the beans still have at least an inch of water. I think it's better to have too much than too little water because I can drain them if they're runny, but burning them is a bummer.

The crockpot is amazing for bean cooking because you never have to check or stir - making it perfect for days away at work or even overnight (soak all day, cook all night - it's a wonderful aroma and breakfast to wake up to!)

To serve: I just ate on rice, with salsa, yogurt, and cilantro. Super yum! Also very good on tortillas.

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