Today’s recipe is my riff on the one found in Rick Bayless’s terrific Mexican Everyday. The biggest differences are that I prefer bay leaves where he uses epazote, and I season the beans with bouillon for convenience–but only after the beans are done. (Bayless uses onions and bacon or ham as a seasoning while the beans cook.) You could just salt to taste, if you prefer. Be sure to add any salt or bouillon at the end of the process or your beans will be mushy.
This technique allows for the beans to be frozen for later use. I’ll be sharing a quick but more complicated bean soup recipe next week using these beans–and another recipe for chili in a few weeks, so be sure to check back.
We now much prefer these beans to canned beans in recipes. The canned beans taste funny to me!
16 oz. bag of dried black beans
Note that you can use this recipe with pinto beans, too.
2 Qts. water
3 to 4 bay leaves (organic is preferred)
Sort the beans, removing any broken beans, dirt clods, or rocks. (This step is a fun activity for kids, as you’ll see in a moment.) Rinse them thoroughly under running water. Set aside.
Add two quarts of water and the bay leaves to a large pot. Add rinsed beans. Bring to a rolling boil and then carefully pour the contents of the pot into a large slow cooker. Set the cooker on high. The beans will need to cook at least 6 hours until tender, although you can leave them for up to 10 hours.
About twenty minutes before you plan to eat them, you can add bouillon. I prefer a Tbsp. of the organic chicken Better than Bouillon.
Because the bay leaves are a choking hazard, be sure to remove them prior to serving.
The beans are great alone as a side, with brown rice as a main dish, and as an ingredient in any dish calling for canned beans.
To freeze the beans, place them in freezer-safe containers with their water, leaving an inch at the top for expansion of the water. Put the containers in the fridge without covers on them. When the beans are completely cool (overnight is great), snap on lids and pop the containers in the freezer.
Now for the photos:
Among the many reasons that I love this recipe–besides the obvious ease-of-preparation and the inherent nutritional value of the beans? It’s easy to prepare and leave on days when we go to the park or while I’m cleaning house.