Thursday, June 12, 2008

La Cocina Cubana: Authentic Black Bean Recipe by: Gregory

Ingredients:
2 - 1 lb.  bags of Goya Black Beans ( I like the size and texture of their beans when cooked)
2 - Medium to Large Spanish Onions, Red Onions work as well (To be used at different times)
2 - Medium to Large Green Peppers (To be used at different times)
8 - Large Garlic Cloves (To be used at different times)
6 - Dried Bay Leaves (To be used at Different times)
Coarse Salt (Use as you cook, you must taste as you go, add accordingly)
Fresh Pepper (Ground Black Pepper, save a touch for later)
Olive Oil (Either Goya Spanish Olive Oil or Sicilian Olive Oil, it's hearty and cloudy and great for beans)
1 Teaspoon of Apple Vinegar
Ground Cumin

Tools:
1- 8 qt. Slow Cooker with Lid, cast iron & enamel is best,I recommend STAUB, unconditonally!
1 - 9.5 Stainless Steel Fry Pan, 7 ply preferably, I recommend a Viking fry pan!
Chef's Knife or Santoku to chop/dice and prep vegetables
Paring Knife
Measuring Spoons
Food Mill
Medium Size Bowl
Tongs
Oh yes...a nice piece of soft/textured French Bread cut into slices for tasting as you go...Yummy!

Preparation (the soaking of the beans):
Clean/rinse the beans very carefully, several times. They may contain little pebbles.
Once cleaned place the beans in the pot
Cut 1 - Spanish Onion into quarters - place in the pot
Cut 1 - Green Pepper, remove seeds, cut into quarters - place in the pot
1 Teaspoon of ground cumin - place in the pot
1 Teaspoon of coarse salt - place in the pot
1 Teaspoon black pepper - place in the pot
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil - place in the pot
4 - Large Peeled Garlic Cloves - Use your paring knife and cut a slit into them - place in the pot
3- Dried Bay Leaves - place in the pot
I like to use my hands, but spoons work as well, mix all together. The aroma is great!
Fill the pot with water about 1 inch above the bean line, cover and soak overnight for at least 12 hours....

In The Morning (The Fun Begins):
Check the bean water line - if water has been absorbed, add more keeping it at least 1 inch above the bean line
Bring to a highboil for about 5 minutes, stir and reduce to low heat
Cook uncovered for about 2 1/2 hours
Skim occasionally and stir - check the water line, never let it dry out, check bean tenderness
If you need to add more water, it must be warm/hot
After 2 1/2 hours the vegetables (onion, green peppers, cloves etc.) have basically dissolved
Transfer them into a food mill - if you leave a few veggies behind that's fine
Add some liquid of the beans to your food mill with the veggies and create a nice paste - add back to the pot...
Taste the beans and check for tenderness. Most should have cracked and should be tender, not MUSH, not hard.
Continue to cook on low heat...add your 3 remaining bay leaves
Add some fresh cracked pepper - to taste ( Less is more, you can always add more)

Final Step...Making the Sofrito!:
Grab your Fry Pan
Finely dice/cube your remaining onion - set aside
Finely dice/cube your remaining green pepper, remove seeds - set aside
Mince your remaining garlic cloves - set aside
Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil to the fry pan and heat on love until fragrant...do not smoke it!
Add the garlic, stir, do not let brown
Add the onion, continue to stir until opaque and tender about 8-10 minutes
Add the cumin - 1 teaspoon
Stir - mix well making sure all the flavors combine
Remove from heat and add all the contents to the beans that are still cooking at low temp
Continue to cook your beans about another 1 1/2 hours on low heat - COVERED!
You're basically done...the beans should be tender, the broth a bit thick.
Set aside serve and eat or store in the fridge - only in glass containers.

Serving:
Black beans should always be served with long grain white rice - but we sometimes use kashi rice or brown, but never, never yellow!

I find the beans taste exceptional the next day...so this a dish you can pre-make or store until you are ready. Feel free to serve solo or puree into a soup by adding a bit of vegetable stock and blend. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and perhaps with one seared scallop or shrimp.

I am a "fish-atarian", I eat only select fish...but if you are a meat eater and your guests are too feel free to add a ham-hock into your beans during soaking period...then remove...this is sufficient flavor.

Buen Aprovecho!
Gregory

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