If you only learn to cook one Cuban dish, make it black beans. I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't liked them. They are typically eaten with white rice on the side and if you are lucky, a nice order of fried plantains. Black beans are also served as soup and are wonderful with a slice of avocado and chopped onions on top.
I have tried as best I could to get my Mother's recipe into fairly concise form. As I mentioned in the last post, taste, taste, taste and add if need be. Make sure you use fresh oregano, that is one of her secrets. We do not use cumin something which is added in most recipes for black beans. Do not add more tabasco than specified, except for maybe a couple of drops more. These are not Mexican beans! If you like more heat, you can add it to your hearts content at the table but you will not be eating Cuban black beans.
The beans will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer so make extra, you won't be sorry!
2 lbs Goya black beans
1 laurel leaf
4 slices bacon
4 cloves garlic
2 large green peppers
3 TB Olive oil
1/2 Cup Catsup
8 dropsTabasco sauce
1 tsp.Worcestershire sauce
2 tsps. sugar
2 TB FRESH oregano
Soak beans in 8 cups of water and one laurel leaf overnight, after washing them thoroughly. Keep the water for cooking and add more water to cover plus one inch on top. Add 1 green pepper and 1 onion cut in half (so that they are easy to remove), salt, and cook until the beans are soft, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the beans.
In a separate skillet, add olive oil, bacon, 2 finely chopped onions, 1 finely chopped green pepper, garlic cloves and fresh oregano. Saute until onion is translucent. This is called the sofrito. Remove a little of the grease before you add to the beans.
When the beans are done, remove the original onion and green pepper, add the sofrito to the beans, the catsup, and check for salt. Add about 8 drops of tabasco, black pepper, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tsps. of sugar. Try again and correct for salt, pepper, sugar or tabasco. These are not supposed to be hot! The tabasco just brings out the flavor.
Cook the beans covered in medium heat for about another hour. Check often as they may be done in 45 minutes. Skim the foam off the top periodically. The beans are done when they are completely soft and the sauce is thick. If the sauce has not thickened, remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes. Adding 3 - 4 tablespoons of olive oil at this stage helps to thicken the sauce. Make sure you stir often so they don't stick to the bottom. Remove the laurel leaf before serving.
The beans are definitely better the next day, so cook one day ahead and refrigerate. Take them out the next day a couple of hours before warming them. Heat in low to medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Stir often!
Black beans are found in the Latin section of all supermarkets. The Goya brand is the one we like best.
Serve over white rice.