Many years ago I tried to cook dried beans on the stove. The results were inedible. Since then I’ve bought canned beans until recently, when in one fell swoop Deb Perelman turned me into a dried bean champ. Her excellent first cookbook, named after her blog the Smitten Kitchen, includes a recipe for cooking black beans in the slow cooker. The technique is as easy as pie (pardon the fattening idiom).
Here’s all you do: dump everything into the slow cooker, turn it on HIGH and when you return 3 to 4 hours later you’ve got delicious, well-seasoned cooked beans. No soaking overnight, no sautéing onions. As the Ronco TV man says, just set-it-and-forget-it.
I’m talking perfectly cooked beans, not mushy, not crunchy, perfect. I’ve cooked pinto beans the same way and they came out perfect too. This is obviously the way to cook dried beans…perfectly.
Black beans are a staple of Latin American cuisine, including the national dish of Costa Rica, Gallo Pinto (rice and beans). Beans combined with rice make up a complete protein, which is why many cultures have developed traditional beans and rice dishes. Both are low in cost and high in nutrition. So why don’t more Americans eat beans and rice for lunch or dinner when they’re so economical and good for you? Perhaps we have too many other options, like burgers and pizza and pasta and Quik Trip snacks and the list goes on and on. Hmm. Any wonder why we’re so fat?
Dig out your slow cooker and try this recipe. I think you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. I cut a fresh jalapeño in half lengthwise and put it in with the other ingredients to make my beans a bit spicier. And don’t forget the lime-pickled red onions as a condiment. They’re an inspired addition, again from Deb.
Cooking caveat: don’t be a slave to ingredients. Yes, the smoked paprika adds a meaty depth of flavor to the beans, but if you don’t have any, don’t worry. Your beans will still be delicious.
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 pound (2 1/4 cups) dried black beans, rinsed
1 dried chile (or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. table salt
8-10 cups water (I used 8 cups)
1 Tbsp. lime juice or sherry vinegar
Put all ingredients except lime juice into a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH until beans are very tender, about 3 to 6 hours. (I have a newer slow cooker and my beans were cooked in 3 1/2 hours.)
When the beans are cooked, add the lime juice or sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. I found that one extra tsp. of salt was about right, but use your own judgment.
Serve topped with chopped cilantro, plain Greek yogurt and lime-pickled red onions (recipe below).
Yield: about 6 cups of cooked beans.
WW Points per 1 cup serving: 6
Lime-Pickled Red Onions
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 red onion, finely diced
Stir lime juice, red onion and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl and allow to sit for 15 minutes.