smoky [er…smokey?] black beans

smokey black beans

When I was younger, I enjoyed food just because I enjoyed food.  I never really thought about taking the flavors I like and try to cook them at home.  It could have been two reasons.  It was either because I didn’t have the opportunity to recreate the dishes because I was too young or my flavor palate was not developed enough to be able to taste the subtle hints of various flavors.  But whatever it was, I’m glad I didn’t hold on to those reasons.  Instead now I find excitement and adventure in trying to recreate a dish, or just the flavors of the dish.  It is actually because of this that I learned about flavor basics for specific cultural cuisines.  I began to turn my tongue into the UN of flavor.  I am the Ban Ki Moon of my palate.

I totally recommend that people experiment and try to make food from memory.  I believe that it is good practice to help me develop my flavor paring, recipe development, and food memory.  Plus, it helps me connect my food to emotions and moment, rather than just eat to eat.  I also love the challenge of trying to create something similar, and if I mess up, then a challenge to make it taste better.  Black beans where like this for me.  I always ordered them when I had the option, but I never really tried making them.  I ended having to attempt to make it because of some dried beans that I happened to be given, so I attempted what could have been a big pot of black lumpy paste.  I knew that coriander, cumin, and garlic where key flavors to Latin cuisines and the rest was just from trial and error.

Now, some thoughts on cooking beans if you haven’t before:  soak your beans.  I like to buy dry beans because sometimes canned ones have salt or preservatives in it to keep the texture, size, or color of the beans.  Canned beans work for this dish as well and are quicker.  Plus, dried beans make me appreciate the process.  If you do use dried beans, make sure you soak them.  The less you soak them, the longer the cooking time.  I had been soaking these beans for about 25 hours and it still took 3 hours to cook.  I have made these beans without the chilpotle pepper in it, and it tasted just fine.  I however like the pepper to add heat but also this intensely great smoky flavor from the chilpotle and adobo sauce.  I love the “La Morena” brand.  It seems to have the most peppers to sauce ratio, which means more spice for your buck and isn’t intensely smoky.  I also first made this vegetarian with a vegetable broth, but also made it with chicken broth.  I prefer the chicken broth, but the vegetable works just fine and does the job.  This as leftovers just get more and more flavorful.  I love it.


2 cups dried black beans, soaked for at least 24 hours and drained

½ cup onion, diced

2 tbs garlic clove, minced (about 2 cloves)

1/3 cup cilantro, minced

2 tbs lime juice, (about 1 medium lime)

1 medium tomato, diced (about ½ cup)

1 medium jalapeno, minced (about ¼ cup)

¾ tsp coriander, ground

¼ tsp cumin, ground

pinch of cinnamon, ground (JUST A PINCH!)

1 ½ tsp garlic powder

2 bay leaves, dried

1 tbs chilpotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (optional)

2 tbs canola or vegetable oil

3 cups of water

2 cups of broth, vegetable or chicken


heat large dutch oven or large pot on medium high heat with oil

sauté onion, jalapeno, and garlic in pot until onion is translucent

mix coriander, cumin, cinnamon, garlic powder, bay leaves, and pepper and stir till fragrant

add beans 2 cups of water and broth to pot and turn heat to high till boiling

boil for 30 minutes and turn down heat to medium for 1 hour

add lime juice and rest of water and turn down heat to medium low

simmer for 2 more hours and season with salt and pepper to taste

garnish with your choice of cilantro, tomato, onion, and sour cream

– serves 6-


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