Easy Black Beans

Have you ever had one of those days when you just don't really feel like cooking?  For me, yesterday was one of those days.  Little Person and I have both been fighting off a cold, Bulldozer started soccer this week, and we are finishing up the last of the moving related stuff that I just had no desire whatsoever to do while I was pregnant.  Great timing, right?

Anyway, we try to eat good, healthy foods no matter what we feel like, because we know that what we put into our bodies has a direct effect on our physical and emotional health.  So for us, that generally means no take-out.  So what is an easy meal that I can get started in just a few minutes and then basically forget about the rest of the day?


Beans?  But don't they take a long time to cook?  Yes, they do take a couple of hours.  Most of that time, however, they are just fine by themselves on the stove.  It only takes a few minutes to get them going and then they just simmer away.  I can come back after a nice, hour-and-a-half-long nap and finish tweaking the spices and dinner is ready!  Well, maybe the nap bit is wishful thinking, but the rest is all true.

The other great thing about beans is that they are a wonderful protein, have lots of calcium and other minerals and they work perfectly with whichever spices you choose to use.  And as far as vegetables are concerned, whatever you have in your fridge is fair game.  Perfect for fridge-cleaning day...

For this recipe, I had some black beans on hand and found an almost-forgotten can of chipotle peppers in the pantry.  To those I added half of an onion that I had in the fridge, some peppers, a bit of tomato paste and a couple of carrots.  See?  Waste not.  And yet all of those ingredients combined turn into a warm, spicy bowl of beans that are delicious served over rice or with tortillas (or both!).

  • 1 lb dry black beans
  • 1 Tbsp bacon grease (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 large onion (or 1 small)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 bell pepper (I was going to add 2, but Bulldozer found one of them...)
  • 1 anaheim chili pepper
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • 4 chipotle peppers
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, divided
  • black pepper and salt, to taste

First step:  soak your beans.  If you plan ahead, by all means soak them overnight.  Otherwise, cover them with water, bring to a boil, cover and let rest off heat for one hour.  Of course, as we have already established, I tend to procrastinate.  So if you do too, bring them to a boil, drain off the first water and proceed with this recipe without soaking.

xt, in a large pot or dutch oven, heat your tablespoon of bacon grease.  And yes, despite no longer living in the South, I will always have a jar of bacon grease.  Doesn't everybody?

Dice your onion and slice your carrots, then saute them for about five minutes.

Dice all of your peppers and toss them in as well.  Taste your jalapenos to see if they are mild.  I had to stop at one, and even then I had to add lots of rice and Greek yogurt to get Bulldozer to eat his beans (only to watch him theatrically gasp and grab for his milk - perhaps we've been reading Calving and Hobbes a bit too much?)  Cook,stirring well, for a few more minutes.

Dice your chipotles and add them to the pot along with the tomato paste.

Stir in the soaked beans

and pour in 8 cups of hot water.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 90 minutes.

Now it's naptime, right?

If only....

When the hour and a half are up, this is what your beans should look like.

Stir in the cumin, oregano, half of the cilantro (coarsely or finely chopped - however you prefer), salt and pepper.  Mix well and continue to simmer, this time uncovered, for another 20 to 30 minutes (until the beans are tender and most of the cooking liquid has been absorbed/evaporated).

At this point, take the pot off of the heat and check the seasoning.  Chop up the rest of your cilantro and stir it in, reserving a bit for a garnish, if desired.

Serve over rice and/or with either flour or corn tortillas.  Also good with this would be avocado slices and maybe a good dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

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