I have posted a shortcut version to Cuban black beans here before, but I thought I'd also post the real way my mom and grandma have made black beans for years. Let me just state that black beans are one of, if not the most important or common dishes in Cuban cuisine. We serve them over rice, eat them alone, cook them into the rice to make "moros"- another typical Cuban side dish. Black beans are served from parties to weekday dinners, and are always a welcomed addition to any meal. There are tons of recipes for black beans, but I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to the ingredient list. I think the flavor of the beans when you're not using the canned variety really lends a totally different taste that doesn't need much "help" as opposed to the doctored up version I've posted here before. Some people add vinegar, or bay leaves or even olives which I add to my shortcut version, but for my family's traditional recipe I omit all three. In the picture above there is a really typical side dish called "tostones" which is made with green plantains. I will post that recipe next.
1 package dried black beans
water (for soaking the beans and later cooking them)
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
5 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
The first thing you do is open the package of beans and dump it into a fine meshed sieve to rinse them, and remove any little particles like twigs or rocks. Then put the beans into a bowl and cover with water. Let the beans soak for about 2 hours. If you're not using a pressure cooker, you'll have to let the beans soak overnight. I used a pressure cooker and it cut my cooking time dramatically. Once you're ready to cook the beans, add them to the pot along with the water they were soaking in. Make sure that you have enough water in the pot to cover the beans and come up about 2 inches from the beans. Next remove the outer layer of an onion and cut it in half. Add that to the pot along with one green pepper (seeds removed) and 2 cloves of garlic. Place the lid on the pressure cooker an cook until the beans are soft and tender- about 30 minutes in the pressure cooker or 2 hours in a regular pot. Once the beans are tender, remove the onion, pepper and garlic and take some of the liquid from the beans and add to a blender. Add 2 raw garlic cloves to the blender and whizz it around until you have a smooth puree. Add it back to the pot with the beans. This would be a good time to add salt to the beans.
Now we begin to build the aromatics for the beans. A trick my mom showed me was to add a roasted green pepper. The way to do this is by simply putting the pepper on the burner and allowing it to roast. Really, it's more like a char, but you get the idea. You can also broil them like the Pioneer Woman does. Once you have a nice char throughout, cut the pepper in half and put it in a zip lock bag. The steaming action that forms in there will make it much easier to peel the skin. After about 15 minutes, remove the black skin to reveal the smooth layer underneath, and add the pepper to the pot.
Next dice up the other onion, red pepper and green pepper and saute olive oil until nice and tender. Add this to the blender taking a little more liquid from the beans and adding the remaining garlic cloves and pureeing. Add the puree back into the pot with the beans and stir to combine everything really well. Taste to make sure it's seasoned to your taste and allow for the liquid to thicken up by simmering lightly for about 20 minutes uncovered. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top before serving.