Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Simple Black Beans and Rice

One of my favorite go-to dinners is black beans and rice. It's super healthy but absolutely provides that comfort food fix. It's also very versatile and can be made ahead of time.
I usually forget to soak my beans overnight, so when I want to make them I just cover them in water, bring them to a boil, cut off the heat, rinse them very well (crucial for the reduction of later gastrointestinal discomfort), and cover them with fresh cool water which I let simmer vigorously for about 45 min to 2 hours. The required cooking time for beans really depends on the type you buy. Goya will lean more towards the two-hour mark while better quality brands like Rancho Gordo will cook up closer to 45 minutes. 

The one to three some-odd hours required for cooking beans seems crazy at first (I mean heck, I can't even seem to remember to soak them overnight in the first place) but very little of that is active cooking time and it's so worth it (cheaper, yummier, healthier). Once you get the hang of it, you'll be hooked.

You can and should add lots of different vegetables and spices to your beans at the start of cooking (after the initial boil and rinse) as these ingredients will flavor the beans and liquid and make for some spectacular dinners. Canned beans be damned!

Here's what I added to this batch.

Simple Black Beans
Yield: About 5-6 cups of beans
1 package dried black beans
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon hot chili powder, I used a very hot chipotle powder from Frontier

Add all the ingredients to a pot after the initial boil and rinse. Simmer on low heat for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 until the beans are tender. Taste them occasionally to check for doneness and to adjust flavors as needed. 

Cook your rice per the package instructions and serve everything hot along with any or all of the following: a fried egg, salsa, a chimichurri-esque herb sauce, chopped cilantro, guacamole, a wedge of lime, sour cream, crema, crumbled farmer's cheese or plain (Greek) yogurt.