Do you also sometimes feel like eating a dish that you’ve eaten before in a restaurant? You just want to revisit the tastes and the moment. That’s something that hits me quite often. For a while now, I’ve been looking forward to a bowl of black bean stew like you get at a Mexican restaurant. Well, this is something that I really love and it’s something I’ve never thought of actually making myself from scratch. That is about to change. During this quarantine, I can use my time at home to imitate dishes that I like from restaurants.
A few Fridays ago Luis, my father and I were really looking forward to making nachos and we were going to do that. This way we also keep busy in these turbulent times and we can practice with food photography. Then I thought, maybe this is the perfect time to start cooking those yummy black beans instead of meat. But I didn’t yet know what a nuisance dried beans can be!
You usually need to soak legumes and beans in advance. So on Thursday night, before I went to sleep, I put the beans in a pot of water, and in my head I was already feasting on the delicious black bean stew that I would be able to eat the next day.
The next afternoon, the day after, the beans looked good, but still felt hard. That’s a bit strange, I thought, because shouldn’t they be softer already? After five minutes of online research, I found out that the beans still needed to be brought to a boil, and then allowed to stand for at least an hour on medium heat. Pffft, so it will be later before we can make and eat the nachos, I sighed. I could really just hit myself at that moment. I should have known this, right?
If I am very honest, I am used to canned beans. That is not surprising at all, because who actually still buys dry beans? Canned beans are easy to have at home, you can always buy them and use them for your dishes in an instant. But because I am of course very interested in eco-friendly cooking and reducing plastic waste in my kitchen, I switched to dry beans, legumes and more. I can easily store and stack these in glass jars, which also looks nice. Plus I never really liked aluminum cans. If you don’t dispose of them properly, you can really cut yourself in a nasty way. That is a danger that I don’t want in my house, but that I unfortunately know all about from the time I worked in professional kitchens. Maybe I should make a video to show you how to properly fold cans before throwing them away.
In the end, it took an overnight soak and two and a half hours of boiling in water before the beans were ready to be turned into a stew. This worked out very well, although of course I had a WTF moment on the way. Somehow I should have known that beans should also be cooked, but with lentils (which I have more experience with) it goes much faster of course …
And now for the recipe!
Mexican black bean stew
- 600 gr black beans, not drained
- olive ooil
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1,5 tea spoon chili mix
- fresh cilantro (you can omit this if you don’t like cilantro, it’s up to you.)
- Lime or lemon juice
Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight, at least 4 fingers above the beans. The next morning gently wash them. Place a pan with plenty of water over medium heat and pour in the beans. Bring this to a boil. From the moment the water boils you have to let the beans simmer for at least two hours. The beans are ready and good for cooking if you can crush them without a problem. You can taste one. They should be a little soft. You can also see the water getting thicker and blacker, which is a good sign.
Finely chop the onion and garlic, heat olive oil in a pan and let the onion fry. When it is translucent, add the garlic and herbs. Stir everything together well and let it sit on the same heat for one minute. Then add a little olive oil and then the 600 grams of beans with the bean water. So you shouldn’t drain the beans, but keep them in their water. Stir well, add salt and pepper and let simmer for 15 minutes.
What I did myself is add an extra 100 ml of water, mash the beans a little and taste. I didn’t think it was really salty enough so I added a teaspoon of salt. This way the taste of the chili spices also came out more. After tasting, let your mixture simmer for another 10 minutes. In the meantime, stir well, otherwise the stew will burn.
Before serving, pour a squeeze of lime or lemon juice over it and add the chopped cilantro as a garnish.
I actually let my pan stew a bit longer than is in the instructions, to let the beans soften a bit more and it became more of a soft and uniform stew.
I served these beans with nachos, intended as a meat substitute. It was even better than I thought. My father thought that was really daring, beans instead of meat, because many people don’t like beans. But I also explained to him that many of my readers are vegetarians. And the meat eaters can of course add minced meat to the dish themselves, right? I am glad that we barely eat meat at home. I prefer vegetables and beans. The result in this case was really deliciously creamy, spicy and I can call it a productive day.
To be honest, it was quite a chore to have to “hydrate” the beans themselves and then turn them into a stew. But it was really worth it because I learned something again, one obstacle in the kitchen less and a wise lesson!
Now of course I am very curious about the troubles you have experienced in the kitchen. Maybe I will learn from your problems! Did beans annoy you too?Share your annoyances and things you ran into with me, so we can all learn from each other. If you’ll let me, I’ll share your experience in a blog!