Frijoles Negros (Black Beans)

Black Beans
Photo above by Eric Futran



2 cups dry black turtle beans

7 cups water

2 Tbl vegetable oil

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

1 medium onion, quartered

To finish the beans
2 Tbl vegetable oil, lard, or bacon fat

1-2 green bell peppers, small dice

1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp freshly roasted and ground cumin seed

1 tsp Mexican oregano


My favorite method for cooking the beans is in a pressure cooker. It is by far the fastest method and the cooked beans have a wonderful creamy texture. For the first cup of dry beans, use 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or lard. For each additional cup of beans use 3 cups of water and another tablespoon of oil. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and onion. Cook the beans under high pressure for 20-22 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pressure reduce completely before opening the pot or the beans will split. Do not use salt until the beans are tender.

Alternatively, soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight, drain and rinse before cooking. Cover by several inches of water, add fat, bay leaf, and cinnamon and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the age of the beans.

You can also use the quick-soak method. Cover the beans in cold water, bring them to a boil, cover and let sit for an hour before proceeding to drain, rinse, cover with fresh water and simmer with the fat and aromatics for an hour to an hour and a half.

To finish the beans

In a skillet, sauté the onions in the oil or lard until golden. Shallot oil is also good to use here, saving the crispy bits for the garnish. Add the oregano, green pepper, and garlic, cooking until all the vegetables are soft. Add the cumin and sauté a few minutes more. Combine this seasoning mixture with the beans and enough of their cooking liquid to just cover them, reserving the rest of the broth for another use. Taste for salt. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the flavors have melded and the beans are the desired texture.

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