Easy Frijoles Negros (Cuban Black Beans)

_MG_7719When I think of black beans I think of my abuelita, slaving over a cazuela all day, stirring and sweating making sure that it was just right. My grandfather would come into the kitchen periodically stick a spoon into the broth and say “a little more salt,” in Spanish of course; then they’d give each other a besito and she’d add the salt and he’d grab a bag of Cuban crackers and sit at the table slathering them in butter, patiently munching away, waiting for dinner to be ready.

More often than not, I don’t have the time or the foresight to soak dried beans overnight and cook them for 6-8 hours the next day like my grandmother used to. This recipe tastes like you’ve been slaving away all day in the kitchen, but is quick and easy enough to cook on a work night. When I moved out on my own, the first recipe I asked my grandparents how to make was black beans and rice. It’s one of my absolute favorite frijoles and it’s the only Cuban dish that you can serve as a main course without having to swap out a single ingredient to make it suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Other cultures may include ham hocks in their recipe, but Cubans never cook meat with their black beans.

My grandfather taught me that it’s all in the sofrito to get the flavor and the heat intensity at which you cook the beans to get the proper consistency. This is not black bean soup. This will not be runny and watery and flavorless like some black beans I’ve had at restaurants. The final product should be thick and hearty and tangy and delicious.



My other half adores this recipe and will request that I make it regularly because it is quite exquisito. Serve it with white rice and sweet plantains or mariquitas (plantain chips) with chimichurri sauce for dipping. This is the quintessential Cuban meal, and I can’t eat it without being reminded of my grandparents. Buen provecho!

Makes 5-7 servings. Cook time from start to finish usually ranges from 1 – 1.5 hours depending on heat and amount of stirring.

3 16 oz cans of Black beans
1 TB Olive oil
1/2 Medium sweet onion diced
2 Garlic gloves minced
1 Medium green bell pepper sliced into long strips
1/2 Lemon juiced
1/2 TB Sour orange juice
1/2 TB dried oregano
1/2 TB garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

Add contents of all three cans of beans and 1 1/2 cans worth of water to a large stock pot (>6 qt) on high heat. Add oregano, garlic powder, salt, bay leaf and the freshly squeezed juice of half of a lemon. Cook on high heat without a cover for 25-30 minutes; stirring occasionally (every 5 minutes or so) with a wooden spoon. After about 30 minutes of cooking the beans, in a separate pan/skillet, start the sofrito; add olive oil to pan and bring to medium heat. Add garlic, onions and bell peppers and cook for 5-7 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent. Make sure that you continue to stir the beans as you cook the sofrito, scraping the sides and bottom frequently. Add the sofrito to the beans, then add the sour orange juice and stir. The beans should be thickening at this point but still fluid. If they are too dry, add a little water. Reduce beans to medium to low heat and cook for an additional 20 minutes covered; stirring and scraping the sides and bottom frequently with a wooden spoon. Once the beans have achieved a thick, gravy like consistency remove from heat. Traditionally served over white rice with sweet plantains.



Nutrition facts per serving (6 servings)
Calories: 209
Fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Potassium: 55 mg
Carbs: 33.5 g
Fiber: 13 g
Sugars: 3.4 g
Protein: 12.7 g
Vitamin A: 2%
Vitamin C: 37%
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 28%

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