Hiya! How are we doing?
Right now, I am living off the generosity of dear friends, the kids are camped out on a pull-out couch, while we wait to move into the tiny apartment we’ll be living in for the foreseeable future, until (God willing) someone wants to sell us their house. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
But, but, but, let’s not talk about that when we can talk about beans!! I’ve been making beans this way forever, or at least for the last 10 years, nah 15. But I made them at my tamale-making workshop last winter and I thought people were going to pass out. “Those Beans!!” they crooned. I was flattered, but also a little concerned that the beans stole the tamales thunder.
Either way, I had the basic principles for making these beans on the blog in this recipe, but that recipe uses pinto beans and I hate saying that I have the recipe for Sofrito Black Beans its just called a Perfect Pot of Beans, and uses pinto beans instead. It’s much clearer to say, “Here’s the recipe for Sofrito Black Beans, it’s called Sofrito Black Beans.”
Tips for Making Sofrito Black Beans
I never really got the hang of making tender, flavorful beans until I watched Armando’s aunt Irma do it. You see, it has more to do with the broth than anything else. Start with a good amount of water covering the beans, a few inches over the beans is a good place to start. Don’t worry about adding too much, you can always cook it down later.
To me, a good pot of beans is an evolution. The first day I make them, I serve them more like a soup, with lots of liquid— very brothy. The second day, I get some oil hot in a frying pan and scoop out a couple of spoonfuls of beans into the pan, leaving most of the liquid behind. I mash and mash to make refried beans. The third day, I heat up ladles full of soup in a saucepan with the liquid and everything and let it cook down until it is nice and thick and serve over rice. And if there’s any beans left I can start all over again and have soup.
After you get the broth thing down—which you will, it’s not rocket science—then comes the second trick to perfect beans: the seasoning. I learned this while working at Firefly Restaurant in San Francisco. My friend Tomasa taught me to cook the beans and the aromatics or the sofrito separately.
Old wives tale or not, I’ve never had a positive experience adding salt to dry beans. For me the advice that salt prevents beans from softening has always been true. The trick is to cook the vegetables that are going to flavor the beans with salt and spices in a separate pan and then add them to the beans once they are tender. And remember, it may seem like a lot of spices in the frying pan, but you are flavoring an entire pot of beans with those spices, so don’t skimp. Also, I know I’ve said this before, but if your beans (or any food for that matter) doesn’t taste good, you probably didn’t add enough salt. Keep adding and tasting and adding and tasting until it’s right. Don’t be scared of salt, salt is our friend— just not when it’s consumed in a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with large fries.
A Few More Vegetarian Favorites
These Sofrito Black Beans are one of our favorite plant-powered Mexican recipes, but they aren’t the only ones. Here are a few more vegetarian Mexican dishes to try:
- Easiest Creamy Mexican Vegetable Soup
- Sweet Potato Nachos with Smoked Cheddar and Black Beans
- Black Bean Pupusas with Lime Curtido
Sofrito Black Beans
These Sofrito Black Beans combine creamy beans with aromatics like onions, garlic, and jalapeños and are the beginnings of everything from soup to refried beans.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
- Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
- 1 pound black beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 jalapeños, chopped (seeds removed if you’d like it less spicy)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- Pour black beans into a strainer, and rinse. Run your fingers through the beans a few times and pick out any rocks or dirt.
- Pour beans into a large pot and cover by a couple inches with water. Ideally, let sit overnight. If you’re running short on time you can skip the soaking step and put the beans directly on the stove, add the bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- If you’ve soaked them overnight, drain the beans the next day, return to the pot, and cover by a few inches with fresh water. Place over medium-high heat, add bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onions, jalapeños, and garlic and season generously with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are starting to brown and become soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and coriander and stir to toast the spices for a couple of minutes.
- Once beans are tender, add onion mixture to beans and stir to combine. If you’d like the bean broth to be thicker, let the beans cook uncovered until they are the desired thickness. Taste and season with salt. Serve!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What’s your favorite bean? Pinto? Black? None? Leave me a comment below and let me know.
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