Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cuban-Style Black Beans

Beans are totally made for the slow-cooker. And for freezing. After the beans are done, distribute between freezer bags and you've got instant yummy side-dishes for the next few weeks. If you like your beans more whole, skip last step of pureeing the beans.

I made these the week I moved and apparently forgot to take a picture of just the finished beans. So instead, please enjoy a reposted picture of my nachos, including these black beans, crumbled feta, and my roasted tomatillo-mango salsa.

Serves 6-8
Total time (excludes soaking beans): 8-10 hours

1 lb dried black beans (do not use canned)
1 large onion, halved at equator, peeled, root end left intact
1 head garlic, halved at equator, skin left intact
2/3 cup diced tomato
1 tbsp kosher salt
4-6 C water
1/4 lb bacon, cut into small dice or pieces
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsps dried oregano
2-3 bay leaves

In a large bowl or pot, dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt in 4 quarts of cold water. Add the dried beans and soak for 8-24 hours. Drain, and rinse beans. Add the beans to the slow cooker.

In a large skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until  it begins to brown. Add the cumin seeds and toast for a minute. Transfer the bacon and cumin to the slow cooker.

Add the root end of the onion, the garlic head halves, diced tomato, kosher salt, oregano, and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Dice the stem end of the onion and transfer to slow cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans. Put on the lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or until the beans are cooked through). Check the liquid level about halfway through cooking time to see if you need to add more--I've found that when I use organic dried beans, I tend to use less water.

Using tongs, remove the garlic, onion, and bay leaves and test for seasonings. If you want your beans mostly whole, skip this last part: take an immersion blender to the fully cooked beans until you reach your desired consistency. I like to puree them just a bit so that some of the beans are still whole and some are pureed. Enjoy the beans over rice, under some grilled pork tenderloin, over nachos, or simply by the spoonful.

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