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Friday, September 5, 2014

Black Beans

2 cups (about ½ kilo or 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pork bone with plenty of meat, or a ham hock, about ½ kilo (1 pound)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium sweet pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups water
2 chicken bullion cubes
6-8 sprigs of fresh cilantro (culantro)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the beans in a large bowl overnight. In a 6-quart pot pour in 3 tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the pork bone/ham hock, onions, and peppers and cook until the onions peppers are wilted and the pork is lightly browned about 5 minutes. (If you like celery, you can even add some diced celery to the onions and peppers to make a really nice sofrito.) Throw in the garlic and oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Drain the beans and add them to the pot, giving them give a good stir. Pour in the water and add the bullion cubes and cilantro. Cover the pot and bring the beans to a boil. Then let them simmer for about 2½ hours. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Never add the salt before the beans are tender. Salt prevents the beans from softening. If the beans are underdone, simmer them with the lid off until tender. Pick meat from the bone, dice it, and add it back to the beans; discarding the bone. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Note: You can make these beans in a pressure cooker without soaking in about 25 minutes. You just need to add an extra tablespoon of oil to keep the pressure release valve from clogging.

Originally published 09/05/2011

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