This recipe from Serious Eats is supposed to be a super easy way to make tasty black beans. Black beans? Yes please. Lazy cook? Double yes. Clearly I had to try it. It’s interesting in that they recommend simmering the aromatics rather than sautéeing them first. Not only is it easier and faster, but the author claims that sautéeing sweetens the aromatics too much, so that they overpower the beans. I was intrigued.
INGREDIENTS (note that this is double the original recipe–who makes just a pound of black beans at a time?)
- 2 pounds dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
- 16 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced in half, with enough of the root end intact that the onion doesn’t fall apart
- 2 juicing oranges, rinsed and sliced in half
Place beans in a large pot and add water until beans are submerged by 3 to 4 inches. Add the garlic and onion, squeeze in orange juice, then add the squeezed orange halves. Cover and place over high heat until water comes to a boil, then uncover pot and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook until beans are completely tender and creamy, 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, and adding water if tops of beans become exposed.
Remove orange and onion halves. Increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced to a thick, creamy sauce that clings to the beans, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve over rice or as a side with fresh cilantro and a dash or two of hot sauce.
I like this recipe. I think the key difference from how I usually make black beans is the instructions to let them cook until they turn completely soft and the liquid is reduced to a thick, creamy sauce that clings to the beans. Obviously, if you want drained black beans for a salad or another recipe, this might not be ideal. But if you just want to eat a bowl of black beans, it works. The author says that the orange adds a “floral, slightly citrusy sweetness” to the broth, and the peel adds a “subtle bitterness.” The first time I made this didn’t have any oranges, so I simply left them out, and the beans were still very good. The second time I added (only) one, but didn’t notice much difference. Then I made a batch with my friend Katrina using a
Alma also likes these beans a lot. The creamy sauce makes it easier for her to eat them, and she likes all the flavor (even though I didn’t use much salt). I freeze them in 2.5-ounce portions, which are perfect as one component of a complete Alma meal. When she was littler I’d spoon-feed them to her, but now she often prefers to just pick them up herself. It’s messy, but she has fun.
One comment about the orange: The author says that the orange adds a “floral, slightly citrusy sweetness” to the broth, and the peel adds a “subtle bitterness.” The first time I made this didn’t have any oranges, so I simply left them out, and the beans were still very good. The second time I added (only) one, but didn’t notice much difference. Then I made a batch with my friend Katrina using a Pomelit (kind of like a sweet grapefruit) from the tree in her backyard, and it added lots of flavor. So maybe it depends on how flavorful your citrus is?
I’ve found the instructions to cook the beans uncovered to be challenging. It seems that the water level is always dropping too low and then I have to add more. I think it’s easier to just do most of the cooking with the lid on, then uncover at the end when reducing the liquid. Next time I want to try this recipe in my pressure cooker.