Dezi Abreu lives in the department of Bolívar, as a Community Economic Development volunteer promoting financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.
This is a recipe that is a staple for my diet, because I can make a large batch and pop individual portions in the freezer as I need them. Being raised in Miami, it’s essential that one learn to make a traditional style black bean. My mom always put her Colombian spin on things, usually cooking them for a couple of hours in a caldero (pictured left). I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and use it in everything from breakfast burritos, soups, toast, tacos or with some piping hot white rice, ripe banana on the side of course!
- 2-3 cups black beans, dried (or other dried bean of your choice)
- 1 carrot, medium
- 1 bell pepper (any color)
- 1 red onion
- 1 tomato, medium
- 2-3 Colombian green peppers
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- Water or chicken broth, as needed to cook the beans
- 2 tablespoons cumin (comino)
- Salt & pepper as needed
- 1½ tablespoons Badia Sazon de cilantro y achiote (available at PriceSmart)
- ¼ cup cilantro, minced
- ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
- Olive oil
- Ham bone or bacon (optional)
The night before you intend to cook these beans leave the desired amount of black beans soaking in bowl of water. This is a crucial step you don’t want to skip, or you’ll be cooking your beans for 8 hours with no avail to soften them up. I make sure that the water completely covers the beans, and I will leave them soaking all night and sometimes the complete next day as well until I have time to cook dinner.
When you’re ready to begin cooking, rinse the beans and leave them in the bowl, sans water, until they’re ready to join the party.
You want to get all your veggies diced up to ¼ inch pieces. This is going to be the base for our soffritto, which is basically the Hispanic mirepoix (fancy French word for mix of veggies), except it’s cooked a little further to develop brown color and more flavor. The idea is that they disintegrate as you cook the beans so you don’t want to chop them up too thick.
You can choose to chop up bacon at this point or have your ham bone ready as well.
Traditionally, these beans are cooked in the fat of pork which is why I put the bacon or ham bone as optional. I usually prefer the vegan version but it is no denying that if you choose to add the bacon or ham bone will result in a much more flavorful dish, although our PC salary will not always allow for this luxury.
It is time to make our soffritto, this is where all the flavor will come from. Put your large caldero on medium flame and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil once the pot is heated through (alternatively, render fat from bacon or Ham bone). It very important that you get that immediate sizzle when you throw in your veggies and that you’re using a large enough pot as to not over crowd the veggies. At this point throw in all the diced veggies except the tomato, cilantro and garlic. You will continue to cook them on medium heat until some of the veggies begin to show a brown color and the rim of the caldero is decorated with a light brown color.
Add the cumin, salt, pepper and sazon de cilantro y achiote. You will notice the veggies now have a warm, red-orange tint from the achiote. Once mixed well toss in the tomatoes, garlic and cilantro you should hear a loud sizzle as soon as they are introduced to the pot. This is the sound of a job well done and the art of cooking with a caldero. After you mix thoroughly add the soaked black beans we had reserved in a bowl.
Once the black beans are introduced to the mix, cover them completely with either chicken broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour. You may need to add more water or chicken broth as beans will begin to soak up the liquid.
Test to see if the beans are done by using the 5-bean test. Fish out 5 beans from the bunch and bite into each one to make sure they are nice and tender. You can continue to add water or broth and simmer on low until the beans pass this test.
Once beans are cooked through and tender turn off the burner. Add the vinegar. This sounds weird I know, but it really gives the beans a nice bite and texture. You want to make sure that you add in the vinegar right as your beans are off the heat but are still piping hot.
This is a great recipe on its own and you can also choose to throw them in a blender to make refried black beans. Some other ideas to make with these beans: