Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Black Beans

My senior year of college, I finally moved into a place with a full kitchen at my disposal (previous years had found me in a dorm or in my sorority house). One of the first things I cooked for myself was black bean burritos. Now, I have no idea why I started making these. Aside from the obvious: beans are cheap. And the other obvious: I love Mexican food. But this wasn't a dish from my childhood or anything. I'm sure I saw a recipe somewhere and came up with these. However they started, they were good enough to stick around.

When I first moved in with Hugh, I made these burritos what seemed like seven times per week (see: cheap). I like routines and could happily eat something I love over and over and over again (remember this?). Hugh, less so. After a few months, he nicely asked me to never make black bean burritos again.

Recently, however, we've had a resurgence. Well, less in the burritos and more just in the black beans. Black beans as a side dish to the hundreds of varieties of tacos it seems like we make. Black beans on a corn tortilla topped with a fried egg. Black beans in a bowl, eaten on their own.

Sometimes I hesitate to post basic recipes like this, because they are so, well, basic. But, hey, maybe you will make these and love them so much you'll eat them seven days a week.

This is how we do it:

Black Beans
A White Hot Original (a throwback to the days when Hugh wasn't even a number in my cell phone)
serves 2, about 3/4 cup servings. Or 1 really hungry person who loves black beans.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5oz can black beans, preferably reduced sodium
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

In small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, cook 3 - 5 minutes. The goal is for the garlic to become barely golden. If your garlic is cooking too quickly, reduce the heat. If your garlic turns brown, throw it away and start over because now it's bitter.

Add black beans and next 5 ingredients (through salt). Simmer 5 - 8 minutes, or until beans are just starting to become soft. The goal is for some of the beans to breakdown and naturally thicken the dish. Also, you want to cook all of that raw taste out of the powdered spices.

At this point I like to give the beans a few mashes with a fork, to break them up a little more.

Stir in cilantro.

Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. You might need another 1/4 teaspoon salt, depending on how salty your beans were to begin with.

Now, from here the sky is the limit:

Serve the beans in a warmed flour tortilla with pico de gallo, a little bit of sour cream, and a few pickled jalapeno slices.

Or serve them as a side dish. Stir in a tablespoon or so of sour cream if you are serving them like this. It, obviously, makes them even creamier. More like classic refried beans.

Or serve them as a main dish for two that costs approximately $0.80 per person. Put them in a bowl and top with an over easy egg. If eating for breakfast, I like to omit the garlic.

Or come up with your own variation and tell me all about it!

1 comment:

  1. Yum, I love black beans and so does Gianna! I like to put them over a little helping of rice and have a black bean "station" complete with: shredded cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo / salsa, guacamole, jalapenos, chopped raw onions, bottle of hell sauce (homemade by my friend's dad)and cilantro. John is not so much of a fan because there is no meat. He doesn't quite get it that beans are protein, too! So, we have had ham with it as well, for John, of course.