Mexican Black Beans

Alright! Time for a recipe. Unless you count the veggie stock that was included in the less-successful making of Chickpea Biryani post. Actually what happened just now was that I really wanted to make a fly-looking mac and ‘cheese’ recipe for Thug Kitchen 101 but didn’t have any beans left.

Moore Wilsons has canned beans but unfortunately all of them have salt (Countdown’s Select range has some salt-free, and a few of the Ceres Organics canned beans range are also if you’re looking). Luckily what it does have is a great range of much cheaper dried beans. So this means beans are what’s for dinner tonight, and I can use some of the masses of leftovers for tomorrow’s recipe.

Here’s the recipe I use for making black beans, my favourite bean for sure. Moore Wilsons sell 1kg bags of dried black beans for a little over $5. This makes a huge amount of beans, somewhere between the equivalent of 6 to 8 cans I’d say. Considering a decent can of black beans is over $2 you’re saving money as well as avoiding the salt. A little more effort though, but emphasis on the ‘little’.

Anyhow, this recipe originates from La Boca Loca (Wellington’s legendary Mexican restaurant), but has been altered by my friend Jeremy Lanford (he’s a neurologist who’s also plant-based). And then it got altered again by me, because, well, those guys are better and more patient cooks than I am. But I think it’s still tasty as.

These go great in tacos even by themselves or can be used as a base for, or added to other meals. Be warned they only last about 4 days or so in the fridge, so freeze anything you don’t think you’ll use within that kind of timeframe. I have no idea how long they officially last in the freezer but we’re talking months if not years, so you’ll never find out because they’re just that tasty and useful.

Oh, and if you don’t like black beans then you can use other ones that you do like. If that’s kidney beans though then be careful you’re cooking them up well! If you want to be a more fancy cook like La Boca Loca and Jeremy then you can char the onion and tomato first, and roast up your garlic.

Soak the beans first! But not for too long. If I do them overnight then they don’t seem to absorb the flavours as well. If I don’t soak them, it takes about 3 hours to cook. If I leave them soaking for a couple hours or so (which is an easier thing to do than keeping an eye on a cooking pot) then it might take just over an hour or so.

Ingredients:

1kg dry black beans (I recommend soaking)

1 large white onion diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small potato peeled and diced into large chunks

1 diced tomato

1 bay leaf

Additional spices:

I use these to add flavour to the original recipe, I prefer the beans to be spicier and so generally use at least this much of the following, along with a couple of extra bay leaves. Sometimes I’ll chuck in extra spices that seem to go with Mexican food as well, like oregano and coriander.

2 tablespoons chipotle

1 tablespoon cumin

Instructions:

In a large pot, fry the onion and the garlic until they start to brown (use a tiny bit of water if needed)

Add the potato and tomato and cook until they start to fall apart (the potato helps soften the skins of the beans)

Add the beans, the bay leaf, and any other spices and then cover them completely with warm water

Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are just cooked; stir occasionally

Remove bay leaf

And that’s all there is to it. If you’re going to eat them as-is or in tacos without anything else or just with some steamed greens (which I do quite often), then a squeeze or two of lime and some fresh coriander can really make things great.

Anyhow, black beans all done and ready for tonight’s dinner, and looking forward to some mac and ‘cheese’ action tomorrow – yum!

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