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January 24, 2012

Cuban (err...Minnesota) Black Beans

I hated beans as a kid - thought they were disgusting, gross, yuck! A pot of chili? No thanks. I don't know if I ever had them any other way as a kid but I remember hating chili. I also hated tomato sauce, so there was that.

It's good to be an adult and try things again that I thought I didn't like and realize that I actually DO like them - love them even! Black beans, mustard, marinara, chili...the list goes on and on.

Anyway, my favorite thing is often a big pot of black beans - we'll have them plain one night alongside something from the grill. I'll mash up the leftovers with extra cumin and chili powder the next night and cover them with cheese and cilantro and onion for "chips and dip dinner", (my kids favorite). I can also freeze these and add them into a pot of rice or to a pot of jambalaya, since we like our jambalaya with black beans in it.

They're easy and versatile.

Feel free to adjust the heat or leave out the lime - cuban black beans usually use red wine vinegar or sherry. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can just use what you have. Sometimes I cover them with fresh chopped white onion, sometimes green - just depends on what I have in the fridge. I often make a double or triple batch so I can freeze some because a pound of these disappears pretty quick around here!

Ms. Pinks Minnesota Black Beans

1 lb dried black beans

6 cups water

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 sweet peppers, diced (you can use any combo - I typically use 1 red and 1 green)
2 jalapenos, minced (you can use just 1 or you can remove the seeds to reduce the heat or just leave them out altogether if you don't want any heat-  it's up to you!)

3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle (if you don't have one, you can just mix them together but I find this way gets the most flavor)

1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf

3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil to drizzle over the beans

1. Cover the dry beans with water and let them stand covered overnight. Drain and discard the water.
2. Put the beans in a large pot, add the 6 cups of water and a Tbsp of olive oil. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until they're tender - about an hour.
3. When the beans are almost cooked, add the other Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat - add the onion, peppers and jalapeno and cook until slightly tender, 3-5 mn. Add the garlic and cook another minute or until fragrant.
4. Add the cooked beans with 4 cups of the cooking water, oregano, cumin and bay leaf. Cover and simmer 20-30 mn, stirring occassionally, adding more of the reserved water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
5. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Add the lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper and taste to adjust if needed. Drizzle with the 2 Tbsp olive oil and cover the pot, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.
6. If you like a thicker pot of beans, take a cup or so of the mixture and mash it and then add it back to the pot of beans - when I make these the 2nd night, I usually take a few cups and mash them for our "dip".


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