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Frijoles Negros (McIlhenny Company)

"The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art,
one of the joys of civilized living…"

~ Dione Lucas

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Marite's Frijoles Negros (Black Beans)

This recipe comes to us from a dear online friend who knows whereof
she speaks. We are grateful to her for sharing this traditional Cuban
recipe and believe you will be as well. Muchisimas gracias, seora!

[For a crowd!]
3 pounds dried black beans
About 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 2 bay leaves
3 green peppers
2 onions, diced
1 head garlic
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Oregano to taste
Olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon sugar

Pick over beans and rinse.  Put in heavy pot and cover with water. Soak overnight, making sure that there is enough water so that after the beans
absorb the water there will still be about an inch or two of water. If not,
add some water before starting to cook. When ready to start cooking, add
about 1 tablespoon olive oil, turn heat to high, then lower as soon as water comes to a boil. Add bay leaves, 1/2 green pepper, cut in quarters, to the
beans, cover and simmer gently until beans are soft but not too soft.
Meantime, you can make your sofrito. Sofrito is the beginning of most
Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes and it starts with a mortar and pestle. Peel
the garlic and put the cloves in the mortar. Add salt, pepper and oregano
to taste. Pound with the pestle until you've got a thick paste. Heat 3 table-
spoons olive oil in a skillet, add 2 onions, diced, 1 1/2 green peppers,
diced, about one tablespoon of vinegar, garlic paste, cook until slightly
wilted. Stir the sofrito into the beans. Continue to simmer slowly about
45 minutes.
Meantime, roast one large WHOLE green pepper until very soft, scrape off burnt bits. Taste the beans, adjust seasonings with salt, a little more vinegar, and a little more olive oil.  Add the entire roasted pepper, seeds and all, the
red wine, and the sugar. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes more.
Now you may need to adjust the timing depending on how the beans are softening. You don't want them firm, but you don't want them totally dis-
solved into a paste either. This should come out nice and thick, but not so
thick you can't ladle it. Serve over white rice.
[When I questioned Terri about the yield, she replied, "It feeds about 24 Cubans (as a side dish), so that would be maybe what? 36 normal people?  Sorry, I should have warned about the volume in the recipe, but that's what
I always make.  Either I have the whole family coming over, and there are
a lot of them and they eat a LOT, or I'm sending some home with some of them, or I just freeze leftovers for another time."]

Note: Terri adds that there may be some non-Hispanics among you who are wondering about the whole green pepper. Here is what she has to say about
that: "Yes, initially there is this lump. But remember, you roast it so it's soft,
and then it cooks some more.  The flesh of the green pepper ends up in big
chunks and let me tell you, Cubans will go for those chunks when serving
themselves! The seeds just sort of disappear in there and the hard heart just
gets avoided and eventually thrown away."
And about the garlic… If you are shy about using a whole head of garlic,
my advice is, “Just do it!” It becomes quite mellow in the cooking process.
Or you could cut it down to 5 or 6 cloves, if you must. Terri says, “In for
a penny, in for a pound. The more the better…” I quite agree!

There is no such thing as a little garlic.”
~ Arthur Baer

Featured Archive Recipe:
Andouille and Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Refritos
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Marite's Ropa Vieja

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