Before I was the Chef at Cinco y Diez and really studied the art of cooking Mexican food, I was an avid eater of the cuisine. But it was my time in Mexico where I really learned how to do it right. At the heart of many latin cultures lies the ability to cook a beautiful pot of beans. Cuban frijoles negros, Brazilian feijoada, Salvadoran casamiento. The beauty of knowing how to cook a great pot of beans is the endless meal possibilities.They are so versatile. They can be the star of the meal, a good bowl of beans and rice is timeless. They can play side kick to countless other dishes. If you follow me on Instagram you will know that one of my all time favorite things to make/eat is tostadas and I almost always start building them with a spoonful of beans. This recipe gives you the tools to building your own perfect pot of beans. The key is building the flavor by layering in aromatics and spices. In Mexican cooking, one of the techniques to building flavor is charring your ingredients. The photo below is a look at how your vegetables should look when it calls for “charred”.
Where to by a better bean. I always say that one of my key roles as a Chef is to find the best ingredients I can get my hands on. I love the selection of beans that Rancho Gordo carries. For the beans we cooked at Cinco y Diez we used midnight black beans. But once you learn this recipe, explore other beans. I love the santa maria pinquito and the ayocote amarillo. Cooking times will vary based on the size of your beans. All you need to remember is to make sure there is plenty of liquid in the pot while they cook and be patient. Beans take time and you want to make sure they are very tender before you eat them.
Heirloom Black Beans
Yields 3 quarts
1 quart of dried black beans (soaked overnight)*
1 med tomato, charred
½ onion, charred
1 jalapeno, charred, deseeded and skin removed
2 garlic cloves, charred, skins removed
1½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
queso fesco/ serrano/ cilanto optional garnish
In a blender add tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic, Mexican oregano, and cumin. Blend until smooth to create a puree. In a medium pot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add in the puree. Fry for about two minuets, string often. Add in the beans and any extra water from soaking. Add in 1 ½ quarts of water. You want to make sure there is plenty of water in the pot. There should be about 3 inches of water over the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour and 45 minuets or until beans are tender. Add salt, adjust seasoning as needed. To serve garnish with a little queso fresco, sliced serrano, and cilantro.
*To soak, cover so there is at least 1 inch of cold water covering the beans. This will help to soften the beans for cooking. Make sure to reserve the bean liquid and cook your beans in it.
Note: The photo below was how I chose to enjoy the pot of beans I whipped up for this recipe. My love, the tostada!