- Written by Cynthia Presser
I grew up eating the combination of black beans, rice, meat and a simple salad five times a week. Only on the weekends we would eat something “more special” (sodas were also only allowed on Sundays). For me, beans are part of the simplest and most comforting of all meals. When prepared with the added flavors of onions, garlic, bay leaves and bacon, black beans are delicious and often become more then “only” a side dish, shadowing the main dish, usually meat, chicken or fish. They are also nutritious, especially when cooked from scratch. When I was having a conversation with two of my sister-in-laws (both good cooks) that I finally realized that black beans are not as nearly as popular in the United States, and that most people don’t know how to add the “right” flavors when preparing; so I decided to share this recipe. If I close my eyes I can still hear the loud sound of the pressure cooker, and smell the scents that would come from the large pot of beans that was prepared in my house when I was a little girl. This post is a little piece of Mom’s everyday kitchen. Welcome!
Makes 6 cups
- 16 ounces black beans
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 ounces bacon, diced (optional)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 dried bay leaves
In a large colander, rinse beans thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl, sort, and cover with the water. Allow to soak overnight or at least 6 to 8 hours.
In a large pot over medium high heat, add olive oil, onions and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and bacon is cooked, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until fragrant, an additional minute. Add beans and soaking water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover partially and simmer until beans are tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Turn off heat and remove bay leaves. Season with salt. Serve over jasmine rice.
To achieve a thicker broth place one cup of cooked beans in a food processor and pulse 4 to 5 times, until a thick paste forms. Stir in beans pot and serve.
If you have a pressure cooker, you can use it to cook the beans and reduce both soaking and cooking times. Soaking time can be reduced to about 2 to 3 hours; and the cooking time can be reduced to about 30 to 40 minutes if using pressure cooker.
Sometimes, bacon can be left out of this traditional Brazilian recipe. I highly recommend the use of it because just bacon can add a delicious smoky flavor to the beans. I love it!