In Praise of the Humble

black beans

To me, beans are the ultimate comfort food. Creamy, filling without being heavy, healthy, and—perhaps this is the most important point—amazingly cheap. What they lack in glamor, they make up for in taste.

And, yet.

black beans

I feel a little silly admitting this, but, the thing is that beans are a huge pain to make. Depending on what instructions you follow, there’s the quick boil and rest, or the overnight soak, and then there’s the issue of salt. Can you or can’t you?

Even when you get through all of those steps, there’s the long cooking time. I find I’m always losing patience about halfway through and my beans are never nearly as creamy as I would like.

onions and garlic onions and garlic
onions, garlic, spices black beans

So, when I first read about a method on The Paupered Chef, I was thrilled, although, to be honest, I was skeptical. It seemed a little too good to be true that I could have perfect beans in under two hours. I was also worried that the method wouldn’t work when it came to adding seasoning.

Turns out I had nothing at all to be concerned about. In fact, now I’m worried that I’ll get sick of eating beans since they’ve become so effortless to prepare. Luckily, that hasn’t happened, yet.

black beans

Black Beans

2 cups onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2.5 tsp cumin
0.5 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 lb black beans, rinsed
salt, for tasting
olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pan)
water (enough to cover the beans by an inch and a half)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Rinse black beans.

In a dutch oven or covered pot, heat olive oil. You’ll need enough to cover the bottom of the pot.

Heat onions and garlic and a pinch of salt until they start to get browned. Add red pepper flakes, oregano and cumin into the pan, stirring to ensure everything browns evenly.

Once the mixture has browned, deglaze the pan with the juice of one lime.

Add in your beans, and cover them with water. The water should be approximately one and a half inches above the beans. Add the bay leaves, Tabasco sauce and salt to taste into the water and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes have passed, cover the dutch oven and place it in the oven. Cook for an hour and 15 minutes. About halfway through, check on your beans and, if they need more water, add it in). This is also a good time to taste and add more salt, as needed.

After cooking for an hour and 15 minutes, your beans will be tender. At this point, I cook them uncovered for another 10-15 minutes to thicken up the sauce.


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Filed under Beans, Meatless

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