Spicy Black Beans

I make rice and beans all the time. But I've never made black beans using dried beans; it's always been canned. Canned beans are so easy because they're fast and put dinner on the table in under an hour, which makes them the perfect weeknight shortcut.

Admittedly, canned beans can be a bit mushy and overly salty, which is something I can forgive when my stomach is rumbling. But when I have the time on weekends, I like to use dried beans. I hadn't done anything with my black bean recipe thus far because even with canned beans, it's so good. But, I figured it was time I do them justice. Honestly, the difference was pretty incredible. Yes, it took loads more time, but I have a feeling that this winter, I'll be doing a lot more simmering and a little less can-opening.

This recipe is essentially the same as my regular black beans recipe, with an added spice or two and the added step of soaking dried beans. Because the beans are simmered in the spices, they really soak up all of the flavor and it's really delicious; seriously though, so good.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 cup dried black beans
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 oz. salt pork, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
½ teaspoon dried coriander
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Start by adding the beans and baking soda to a container and cover with water. Leave to soak for at least 8 hours.
Once the beans are hydrated and you're ready to cook, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the salt pork and oil to the pan and cook until the pork is crisp.
When the pork has started to go golden brown on the edges, sprinkle in the cumin. Let it toast briefly and then toss in the garlic, onions, and peppers.
Saute the vegetables until they're soft and then add in the rinsed and drained beans.
Top off with the chicken stock.
Nestle in the bay leaf, add in the chopped oregano, the cumin, coriander, vinegar, and cilantro sprigs.
Let the beans simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are tender.
Serve the beans while they're nice and hot.
To accompany the beans, I grilled a ribeye steak, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. I sliced it up and then squeezed over the juice of half a lime.
Of course, rice is compulsory; you need a vessel to soak up the juices.
The beans are incredibly flavorful and I love that there's more texture to the beans, instead of being completely soft. It's easy to taste the salt pork, the chicken stock, the cumin, the garlic; the beans are like sponges and they really absorb those flavors.
Here's the recipe page: