While we provide this recipe for black beans, it works for any kind of dried beans. And served up with rice, these black beans will make a really great main or a nice side. Today, it seems as though most people prefer to buy canned beans, and we do buy them occasionally, but for the most part, we make them from scratch. Why? They really do taste better. They are less mushy. And it is significantly cheaper to scratch out a pot of beans. Besides, it really isn’t difficult. Sure, it takes some time, but very little of that time is yours, mostly the beans are simmering.
This particular recipe is modified from Greg Atkinson’s At the Kitchen Table, The Craft of Cooking at Home.
If you don’t have kosher salt, use regular, but use about 3/4 of a teaspoon. Kosher salt is less dense than table salt, so you need a bit more. You can substitute any dried beans for the black beans; we often do.
Procedure in detail:
Wash the beans. Put the beans in a colander and give them a good rinse. Pick out and bad ones and watch for small stones. As some packages of dried beans explain, “Beans come from the farmer….” Who knew?
Soak beans (optional, but recommended). For faster cooking beans, place them in a saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Let soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse beans and continue cooking as instructed.
Boil water. Boil the water along with bay leaf and salt. See, it’s not so hard to make scratched beans, is it?
Add beans. Once the water is boiling, add the beans and bring back to a full boil.
Let stand 1 hour. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for an hour. This is the essentially the quick-soak method you may have read about elsewhere. You could also soak the beans overnight and drain them in the morning. Or even both, depending on the bean. We did both for garbanzo beans.
Boil, then simmer. Turn the heat to high and bring the beans back to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer covered until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Make sure to stir them from time to time, and, if necessary, add water to cover the beans. We can’t give you an exact time because older dried beans take longer to cook.
Make the sauté. When the beans are tender, heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan and cook the onions, garlic, and spices until the onion is tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion mix. Your beans are almost done, so add in those onions, garlic, and spices you’ve just cooked up. Stir them in, and cook the beans for about another 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Done. Serve your scratched beans as a side, or with rice.
This is our standard recipe for making beans; it’s easy, tastes great, and, as we’ve pretty much given up on canned beans since we got this recipe, it’s a fiver.