Black Beans with Roasty Green Chiles

by Kelly on June 19, 2009   

With grilled tri-tip or a poached egg, dreamy

With grilled tri-tip or a poached egg, dreamy

I got over my dried bean hesitation some years ago, thanks to Lulu. Lulu babysat occasionally for Daughter #2, but we spent a good deal of the time talking about food while Daughter #2 played in the tupperware drawer. Lulu is from Guadalajara, where they really know something about cuisine. Together Lulu and I frequented the home take-out kitchen (yes, against all the rules) of one fellow Guadalajaran named Eva. Sheesh, “drunken” beans, guava tamales, meltingly tender carne asada. Lulu translated, I ate. One day Eva vanished — poof — though I think her loyal clientele knows where she is. I don’t ask.

Even though she bowed to Eva’s hefty talent, Lulu was and still is a fantastic cook. I’m not the only one who offered to watch my own child so she could whip up some basic beans or fresh salsa or paper-thin omelets (I’ll post those soon). One lesson I came away with was that beans do not need all that pre-soaking. My avoidance of dried beans stemmed from that plan-ahead step, because by the time I was thinking of cooking beans, the night before was last night. Yesterday’s news. Gone and gone. And that hour pre-soak — well, why not just make that an hour of actual cooking? Lulu made beans the day of, though she would usually start them in the morning. That way the smell was enough to drive you mad by lunchtime.

This recipe will work with canned black beans, but there is a joy and an amazing smell that comes from the burble of the bean pot. No surprise that folks have been comforted by this legume for more than 4,000 years.

I have found a stone -- but only once

I have found a stone -- but only once

Black Beans with Roasty Green Chiles | 6 to 8 servings

If you start with dried beans, give yourself plenty of time. It’s an easy dish but the beans do take 2 1/2 hours to cook. Dried beans can lose their freshness, so don’t store them too long. A year in a sealed package is probably nearing the end of that time.

2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans (or three 15-ounce cans black beans)
1/2 yellow onion, cut into wedges
3 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
Salt
3 pasilla or Anaheim chiles, or any mild green chiles, roasted, peeled and chopped (or one 7-ounce can roasted whole green chiles)
Olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping cup cooked chicken or any cooked meat
Juice of 1/2 lime
Fresh salsa
8 sprigs cilantro, leaves chopped
More salt to taste

Spread the beans out on a light-colored surface, working in several batches. Sort through and remove any little stones, dirt or odd-looking beans. I usually remove the extremely withered ones. Put all the dried beans in a large pot with some water, shuffle them around with your hand, and pour the water out, using a strainer or colander to catch the beans. Repeat this a couple of times to wash them. Fill the pot with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer and add the onion wedges and 3 garlic cloves.

The garlic is supposed to keep the effect of oligosaccharides -- nudge, nudge -- down to a dull rumble

The garlic is supposed to keep the "bean" effect of the oligosaccharides -- nudge, nudge -- down to a dull rumble

The Kitchenelly way to store leftover onion. It's odor proof and the little package lets you know exactly what's inside...

The Kitchenelly way to store leftover onion. It's odor proof and the little package lets you know exactly what's inside...

Cook the beans covered at the lowest simmer. The surface should be just moving a little. Boil them hard and they’ll get tough (thanks, Lulu!).

If you are using canned black beans, drain them but retain about 1/2 cup of the liquid. To that liquid add 1/4 cup water.

After two hours of cooking, add a handful of salt to the beans, stir well and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender but not mushy. They may take longer, so go by texture rather than time. Turn the heat off and let them sit until you need them.

This is about a heaping tablespoon

This is about a heaping tablespoon of salt

While the beans are cooking (which will take about 2 1/2 hours so you have time to put your feet up) roast the chiles. Over a medium gas flame, under a broiler or on a gas grill, blacken the chiles all over.

Next week I'll be posting a more in-depth description of how to roast chiles and peppers

Next week I'll be posting a more in-depth description of how to roast chiles and peppers

After the chiles have cooled, scrape off the blackened skin, remove the stems, seeds and stringy ribs, and chop coarsely.

If you are using canned green chiles, chop them coarsely.

In a large pan heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and a sprinkling of salt and cook until starting to color, about 10 minutes.

Stir the onions around from time to time to keep them from sticking

The sprinkling of salt brings out the sugars in the onion, which helps it to brown or "caramelize"

Add the chopped green chiles to the onions. Add the beans by scooping them out of the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon (or add the drained canned beans). There will be 5 to 6 cups of cooked beans.

Just scoop them out with the slotted spoon, and don't worry about bringing along some of the cooking liquid -- some of it will be used anyway

Just scoop them out with the slotted spoon, and don't worry about bringing along some of the cooking liquid -- some of it will be used anyway

Add 3/4 cup of the bean cooking liquid and cook, stirring, over medium heat until much of the liquid is cooked off, about 10 minutes. Add a little more liquid if the beans get too dry. Stir in the cooked chicken and heat it through. Turn off the heat.

Stir in the lime juice, salsa, cilantro, and salt to taste. Serve with extra lime wedges and salsa. You can also serve it with queso fresco (a crumbly Mexican cheese), feta, sour cream, or grated sharp Cheddar. Throw in some tortillas, shredded lettuce, crumbled tortilla chips, hot sauce. Make a few margaritas from the extra limes — watch out, it might be a party.

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Guava Corncakes
October 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm

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Diana June 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to hear more about roasting chiles.

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