Monday, August 16, 2010

Black Beans

Having a pot of cooked beans on hand makes for quick, delicious, nutritious meals.
I cooked a pound of black beans, and then went on to enjoy them by the bowl full with the rich pot liquor and warm tortillas the first night.

Then as chilaquiles (pureed beans with baked corn chips) over yellow squash another day and then as soft tacos yet another day.

Laced with fresh salsa and drizzled with a piquant chipotle salsa, topped with green onion and diced avocado, they made a satisfying supper, yet another day.

Eating frugally, yet deliciously isn't difficult. It just takes a bit of planning and a spot of imagination.
With Rick Bayless to spur me on–with his early volume of Mexican Cuisine—I'm now inspired to add a few more Mexican dishes to my repertoire.

Beans are a simple, yet important staple. Given a few little twists, beans can become the star of the show, able to compete, and win hands down, with any flesh-centered meal. At least in my humble opinion. Here's one of my simple adaptations of the many instructions for cooking beans:

Simple Black Beans
1 lb black beans, washed and sorted for debris
6-8 cups water
2 garlic cloves
1/2 large white onion, diced (or one medium onion)
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp ground chipotle
1/2 tsp adobo powder
1 tsp salt
You may choose to soak the beans overnight, this does shorten the cooking time a bit, or you can just cook the beans after washing and sorting. I cover the beans with about two inches of water and keep it there after bringing it to a boil then turning the heat down to allow the beans to simmer gently.
Add two or three whole peeled garlic cloves at the start. Gently stir the beans from time to time, keeping the water level at least an inch above the top of the beans. Start checking for doneness after about 90 minutes. The beans will take 1 1/2 hours or more. When the beans are tender, but not mushy, add the rest of the seasonings and let them simmer for another 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
There are so many variations, but this is a good starting place. The resulting pot of beans along with the succulent pot liquor is fine on its own. It also makes a great base for many other dishes.
Learn from the masters. Bayless instructs throughout his book, offering insights, variations and complete instructions to help us produce and reproduce fabulous Mexican meals.
It's delicious, nutritious, fun and best of all—very economical!

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