I’m going to let you all in on an open secret: I’ve been told I have a way with beans.  I know, what a glorious claim to fame. But I have to admit that I LOVE beans.  I NEED beans. All kinds of beans, prepared in all sorts of ways (as long as they aren’t refried…. I don’t do refried).  I’m a particularly big fan of chick peas/garbanzos, black and red beans.  I cook some kind of bean dish about once a week. My Romeo complains on occasion.  He claims his at-times, ahem, flatulent tendencies are a result of my overuse of beans as a staple food in our diet.  Whatever, my stomach is not affected thusly and beans are good for your heart, right?  Romeo should be thanking me!  I know, I overshare! But, the cabal of smarty-pants USDA scientists do recommend that American adults consume at least 3 cups of beans a week to promote health and reduce the risk of colon cancer, etc.  My friends, I’m totally beating the curve!

Another secret: if you soak beans overnight and then rinse them, cook them for a while, and then rinse them again you can eliminate most of the sugars that promote gas formation. In the wise words of one of Bart Simpson’s  chalkboard etchings:   “Beans are neither fruit nor musical.” (BTW- shouldn’t the Simpsons creators convert the chalkboard to the much maligned, but now ubiquitous, dry-erase board in the newer episodes? Who’s with me?)

Now, I prefer to make some bean dishes from canned beans (especially when I’m making a bean-based puree like hummus).  When I have time, however, I like to cook the thin-skinned beans (navy beans, black beans, red beans) the long way.  The difference in taste and texture between dry black beans and canned beans is really worth the planning and work that goes into cooking them.  But, ladies and gentleworms, cooking dry beans does require time. So do feel free to take the following recipe and use it with canned black beans instead of dry black beans.

My Amazing Black Bean Recipe after the jump

First the soaking:

The night before your bean extravaganza, rinse and pick through your beans for foreign objects.  Submerge the contents of a full bag of dry black beans in cold water, make sure the beans are covered in the water.  Add a few table spoons of lemon juice and a few sprinkles of cayenne powder.  Let soak overnight.


The next morning rinse your soaked beans. Cover them again with cold water and boil for an hour in a large pot.  Rinse beans again and place beans in enough water so as to leave about an inch of water above the beans. Throw in a few crushed garlic cloves.  Allow to cook slowly for 3-4 hours.

Place 3 julienned red onions in a deep skillet or wok and cook them on very low heat until they caramelize. Add diced green onions, finely diced garlic, and some cilantro sprigs.


As the beans are brewing add a few liberal dashes of red pepper flakes, two tablespoons of lemon juice, cumin, and salt to the bean pot.


When beans are on the edge of tenderness and most of the water has cooked off, drain the beans of excess liquid and transfer the beans into the  deep skillet with the caramelized onions, add 1/2 cup of lemon juice and bring the mixture to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Add a bit of  red wine vinegar, liberal shakes of cayenne powder, and a few liberal sprinkles of brown sugar (or splenda brown sugar if you or someone you are cooking for is sugar sensitive).


Dice two tomatillos and add them to the skillet.  Toss in some whole grape tomatoes.  Stir thoroughly and wait another 10 minutes.  Toss in a handful of fresh cilantro stir again and remove from heat. You can serve it over rice or rolled in a tortilla if you want.  I prefer it alone.  It’s that good.

Beans are a magical legume…….


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  • LC April 28, 2009  

    Is there such a thing as a most valuable ingredient (mvi)? If so I think the one in this recipe must be brown sugar because I swear I have made black beans with most of these things that were just meh. when I got to the sugar I thought, ohhhh. Or perhaps it’s just the way you have with beans.

  • Maids April 28, 2009  

    I think the brown sugar is pretty important, as are the caramelized onions and lemon juice. You want the beans to be completely infused with those flavors, thus the multi-step process and the time I take cooking the beans in each of these ingredients separately. I’ve also found that the beans take on even more of the flavor of the ingredients after a few hours in the fridge (so I love having leftovers of bean dishes).

  • BS April 28, 2009  

    @LC – we’re officially gonna steal the phrase Most Valuable Ingredient.

  • Maids April 28, 2009  

    I hope LC will at least get comment of the week in exchange BS….

  • MichaelZ April 28, 2009  

    Given the south of the border ingredients in this dish I wonder how substituting lime juice for the lemon juice would work.

  • Mea17 April 29, 2009  

    I never seem to be able to find tomatillos (I live in DC). In advise on where to look for them?

  • Liza April 29, 2009  

    yummmy maids!!! Love the brown sugar aspect!

  • OMGYeahYouKnowMe April 29, 2009  

    I am so scared of that gentleworm. WTF is that thing?????? Anyway, that’s a whole long time of cooking for a vat of beans (no matter how delicious they look). I’ll stick to goya, thank you.

  • Maids May 1, 2009  

    @OMG, that ‘thing’ is the caterpillar from the Labyrinth! “I said ‘ello!” (you know Jennifer Connelly’s blockbuster hit.)

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