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 the flavor is all in the sofrito and the proper consistency is achieved by a combination of cooking at high heat and then at low heat. 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.
Black beans have always been a main course in my household. Serve it over white rice and sweet plantains, tostones, or mariquitas (plantain chips) with chimichurri sauce for dipping. Or another option is to slice up some avocado and serve that as a side. This is the quintessential Cuban meal, and I can’t eat it without being reminded of my grandparents. Buen provecho!