“Beans and rice, rice and beans.” Dave Ramsey always quotes that when telling people to clean up their mess and get out of debt. People actually ask him “Do you really mean eat only rice and beans?” No. The meaning behind that saying is to cut back your lifestyle, stop eating out, cut cable, etc. only necessities in order to find money to save or get out of debt. There is no doubt about it, beans are inexpensive, especially dried beans. They are synonymous with cheap eats.
I have always loved beans, especially beans AND rice. Maybe it is something about being from NY. So many cultures there are deeply rooted in beans and rice. I admit, when I left home I rarely attempted to make dried beans. When I did, they never came out right. Since we have become cheap eats enthusiasts, I have made it my business to perfect a pot of beans! A pot of beans when done right is not only delicious and filling, but also an inexpensive form of protein. Win win! This is also one of the 5 things our son will eat (not even joking).
Black eyed peas and black beans are two of my favorite beans to cook and are always on heavy rotation in our house. I have already done a post sharing my recipe to prepare black eyed peas, so now I am sharing my black bean recipe. These beans have so much flavor because of the aromatics. I really think that is key and what makes them so delicious. My husband was not much of a bean eater before we met, now he loves them just as much as I do. It really is all in the way you prepare them. This recipe makes a big pot, but beans freeze really well. Don’t be afraid to make the whole pound, you can freeze any extra and have them ready in a pinch.
- 1 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight then rinsed and drained*
- 1 serrano pepper, sliced lengthwise*
- ½ onion, (try to leave some of the root so it does not separate when cooking)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tbsp bacon fat (optional)
- 32 ounces chicken broth
- kosher salt
- In a large saucepan (3 to 4 quarts) add beans, Serrano, onion, bay leaves, garlic, thyme, bacon fat, broth and 1 cup water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until beans are tender. Remove what you can find of the Serrano, onion, bay leaves, garlic and thyme sprigs. Season with salt, about 1 tbsp. Add more to taste, if needed.
*If you don't want the spicy note that Serrano pepper brings to the party, use ½ of a green pepper instead. This will give good pepper flavor without being spicy.
*In our house we are old school (and southern) so we save our bacon fat (grease) from the morning. If you don't have bacon fat on hand or the thought of bacon fat weirds you out, add a couple strips of raw bacon. If you prefer, you can totally leave out the bacon/fat. Adding pork to beans gives the beans an umami depth of flavor that you can't get from anything else. The beans will taste good without the bacon... just not as good.