Cuban Black Beans (and rice)
This recipe was given to me by the grandmother of a friend, all 3 generations of their family having fled Castro together (but the Grandma being, of course, the best cook). I make it in a crock pot which was NOT how Grandma did it but it works well. You, of course, can use a crock pot or not as you want.
- 1 lb black (turtle) beans, covered with 2 inches or so of water and soaked at least overnight
- 4-6 oz (4 to 6 thick slices) bacon or salt pork
- 1 green pepper
- 1 1/2 medium onions
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, crushed (you can use ready-crushed tomatoes and you can use a larger can such as 28 oz. I like it kind of tomatoey so I often do use a larger can.
- 1 large or 2 smaller bay leaves
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano (or a bit more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp vinegar (I like sherry vinegar but red wine vinegar will do)
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco (or more as desired)
Combine in pot (crock or otherwise) the soaked beans with their soaking liquid, 1/2 green pepper cut into 2 pieces, 1 onion skinned and quartered, 2 cloves garlic, the bay leaf (or leaves), the bacon or salt pork chopped, the tomatoes and 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook until beans are soft and begin to break down. In a crock pot this may take as long as 15 hours on high--I usually put them on in the evening and by noon the next day they are done. In a regular pot, it should take a few hours. Be sure to sample one or two beans to be sure they are really done. With a fork, remove as much of any remaining chunks of green pepper, onion and bay leaves as you can from the pot (I usually scoop them into a small bowl, then remove as much of the inevitably adhering beans and sauce as I can and return that to the pot).
In a small skillet or sauce pot, combine 1/2 cup olive oil, the remaining half green pepper (chopped), the remaining half onion (chopped) and the remaining 2 cloves garlic. Saute until veggies are soft. Add oregano, cumin, salt, and vinegar. Cook 2 minutes. Add to beans along with the Tabasco.
Beans are done. They may be allowed to cool, stored and reheated for serving or served immediately. Like many such dishes, I find they improve with storage.
Serve them over cooked white rice, sprinkled with chopped raw onion and a sauce made of 2/3 good (pref. extra virgin) olive oil and 1/3 good vinegar (again, I like sherry vinegar but red wine vinegar will do).