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  • Recipe: Easy Black Beans

    June 22, 2012 | 1 comments
    Steven making black beans at age 19.
    Steven making black beans in 1990

    Long before marrying Andrea, Steven dated a Cuban girl from Miami. It was a typical college relationship. They were madly in love within days and broken up less than six months later. The relationship had all the elements of an old-fashioned melodrama. Every emotion was amplified through the prism of youth. After the breakup, the girl sacrificed a live chicken in order to curse Steven in a Santeria ritual. Steven probably deserved the curse; he had a tendency to crack inappropriate jokes at times when no words should be spoken. The chicken, however, was completely innocent.


    It turns out that a cursed life is largely indistinguishable from a lucky one. Even that crazy relationship turned out to be a lucky break. Out of the wreckage, Steven managed to salvage the girl’s family recipe for traditional Cuban black beans. Over the past 20 years, Andrea has taken that recipe, and as she’s prone to do, both simplified and perfected it.

    This easy black bean recipe violates nearly every rule we have for cooking. We believe that almost everything is better made from scratch. Stock, salad dressing, guacamole, even salsas are all superior if made, not bought. Our version of black beans, however, is decidedly not from scratch. It works brilliantly. It’s as easy as microwaving popcorn. It’s by far the quickest and simplest recipe we make. The results are always incredible. We think they’re superior to the original recipe from which they grew.

    • Recipe For Easy Black Beans (Serves 2. Scale as needed.)

      1 can (14.5 oz.) unsalted black beans. (Read the label and try to find a brand containing just beans and water, not a lot of other ingredients. We prefer organic, but conventional works just as well. Choose unsalted beans because the salt in canned beans varies from 100-700mg making the salt profile unpredictable. As a general rule, it’s always best to be in charge of your own salt.)

      ½ can Salsa Casera (Salsa Casera is available in most grocery stores in small, 7oz. cans)  You only need half a can for the recipe.  Use the rest in guacamole or throw it on eggs in the morning. Other salsas will work, but Salsa Casera is simple, contains no junk, and the results are predictably good.)

      ½ cup beer or chicken stock

      ½ cup chicken stock (or water)

      Salt to taste (about 1 tsp.)

      Add the entire contents of the can of black beans (including liquid), the ½ can of Salsa Casera, and the ½ cup beer or chicken stock into a saucepan. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. Stir frequently, until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the final ½ cup chicken stock or water. Add the salt at this time as well. Simmer again until the liquid is nearly gone. Taste once more for salt, and add more if needed. Turn off heat and let beans set up a bit. Serve.

    The picture at the top of the page is Steven at age 20, making black beans in Andrea’s college apartment. When we say that we’ve been making and improving this recipe for 20 years, we aren’t exaggerating. Give our black beans a try. They’re easy, they’re fast and we think they’re as good as any black beans you’ll ever taste.

    • Fact: It has been pointed out that these beans are no longer even close to Cuban. True enough. The flavor profile in our version is far more Mexican.

      We still have the original Cuban recipe from which our version grew. We plan to include it in the DYC Newsletter scheduled to go out next week. If you’re interested in trying it, you can sign up below.

    As always, comments, additions and feedback are always welcome.

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  1. Margaret Garcia 09:30am, 07/29/2012

    Hello can I reference some of the material here in this entry if I reference you with a link back to your site?

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