Good Morning & Evening, My Dearies. My mother is here visiting the subtropical hollow, so I might be delayed in posting for the next few days. I did, however, want to quickly share this plate of tropical deliciousness with you.
On that note, I know what many of you are thinking about posting stewed black beans. Well, maybe I don't, but I do know that I have often wondered why people make such a big deal out of black beans and rice. This is because I usually eat this dish in restaurants, and, well, it's just never very good. The usual for this dish in the subtropical hollow is a plate of bland, overcooked beans next to a bed of oil laden, low grade rice with the usual accompaniments that most often share the aforementioned adjectives. This may not be the case in places like Miami, but around here it's the standard.
Yesterday, I decided to make this dish ONLY because my mother recently bought me a large container of dry, organic black beans. The result made me realize how this dish came to its culinary rise and popularity: Tasty, texturally firm & delicious stewed beans next to a bed of fragrant, buttery basmati (not traditional, but wonderful) with salsa, mango chutney, fresh cucumber, and, of course, tostones!
Tostones, fried green plantains, are a culinary wonderment that never fail to make me wonder why I don't make them more often. These salty morsels dipped in the black beans with some salsa is an experience I can't explain: they are just awesome! I hope you will buy a bunch of green to greenish-yellow plantains and try them even if you don't bother with other parts of this dish-yes, they are that good!
This recipe is my version of Cuban black beans. It certainly is not authentic, but it is a super delicious vegetarian take off of this classic and wonderful Cuban dish.
Stewed Black Beans*
1 lb. Black beans soaked in water over night
6-7 Cups water
1 Onion-cut in half (do not cut off the ends or it will fall apart)
1/2 Green bell pepper (whole, seeds removed)
4-5 Cloves garlic-sliced in half
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tsp. Cumin
3/4 Tsp. oregano
2 Pinches of red/cayenne pepper
2-4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar or to taste
Salt & black pepper to taste
Drain the soaked black beans. Place the beans, water, onion halves, bell pepper half, garlic, and bay leaves in a pot. Bring to a boil and leave at a high boil for 7-10 minutes stirring intermittently. Once done, skim off any foam, lower the heat to low, and place the top on at an angle. Cook on low heat stirring intermittently for one to two hours or until beans are firm yet soft (you may need to add extra water). In the last ten minutes of cooking, add the cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper and vinegar. Enjoy! Serves 6-8.
For tostones, cut green or greenish yellow plantains into 1 inch pieces as shown below. Pan fry on medium heat in oil till each cut end is golden. Take off the heat and mash the plantains into discs (you may want to remove the pan from heat during this time to avoid oil burn). Return to the discs to the heat and saute each side for 2-3 minutes or till golden. Remove and place on a napkin. Salt! Enjoy!
Enjoy with rice, salsa, cheese, cilantro, hot chilis, etc...
Oh, and spicy mango relish is also good with this dish!
P.S.-Never place salt in beans that are stewing till cooking is almost done, Dearies-this destroys the outer shell creating mush!