Monday, March 14, 2011

Black Beans with Orange Depth Charge

I think this picture looks menacing.

This is an adaptation of how my mother makes black beans; she adds the orange from the beginning, but we don't do that because adding acid to uncooked beans results in tough skins and fire rain.

Pick over two cups black beans. Put in a pot with lots of water- like six cups- and a bay leaf, 1/4 tsp oregano, and maybe a little espazote. Simmer gently for 1 and 1/2 hours, or until tender. Add additional water as necessary to maintain a soupy texture.

An aside about beans: most types of beans take 2.5-3 hours to achieve tenderness. Black bean take less time. You could give them another half hour, but if they aren't tender by then, you have old beans. They will never become tender. Give up and order take-out instead. Throw away the rest of the beans you bought.

Also, beans are done when one blows on them and the skins crack and peel back a bit.

Right. Muddle the beans a little- smash a few of them to give the broth heft. (A few being about 1/4 cup. No need to get carried away.) Slice in half one or two oranges. Juice all but one of the halves and add the juice to the beans. Toss the remaining unsqueezed half into the beans and simmer for another half hour.

Oh, you could add some chiles here. I'd go for something with a lovely floral note such as a habenero. Se├▒or C does not agree. My mother adds half a cup of red wine and puts the chile peppers in other parts of the meal

If done correctly, the pectin in the orange pith produce a bean dish that resembles pahoehoe. The texture is almost satiny. Also, it tastes like oranges and orange oil.

Serve with rice and salsa. I like to pretend it's Cuban, and serve with unripe banana salsa and chopped hard boiled egg.

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