Cuban Black Beans

These fragrant black beans are a good change from the tomato-based bean dishes. Serve them over hot rice or wrap them up in a burrito. Or remove all the bay leaves, then whirl some beans and broth in a blender or food processor to make black-bean soup.

2 pounds dried black beans
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
7 bay leaves
12 cups water
7 cloves garlic, diced
2 1/2 large onions, chopped
2 1/2 large green peppers, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle or cayenne powder, or to taste
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon crushed, dried oregano

Clean the beans. If you want to, soak beans for 6 to 10 hours.

In a slow cooker or a big pot on the stove, cook beans, salt and bay leaves in 12 cups of water. Your times will vary based on the age of the beans and whether you soaked them first, but this should give you an idea about the relative speed of each way. If you have time, use the 5-hour way.

  • 5-hour way — Put beans in cold water in the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on low and cover.

  • 3-hour way — Put beans in hot water in the crockpot. Turn the slow cooker on low and cover.

  • 2-hour way — Put beans in cold water in a pot on the stove. Cover pot, bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low.

About an hour before the beans should be done, bite a few beans to check for tenderness. When the beans give but are still crispy, add the remaining ingredients, stir and re-cover pot.

Simmer for another hour or so until the beans and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves.

Serve over hot rice. Optionally, garnish with a spoonful of plain yogurt, diced tomatoes or salsa.

Recipe courtesy Linda Watson, author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet — All on $5 a Day or Less (Da Capo Press, 2011), used by permission.


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