Tía Lourdes’ Cuban Frijoles Negros (Black Beans)

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My Tía Lourdes' frijoles negros is my most treasured written recipe, and, with her permission, I am sharing it with you.

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A dozen years ago, my then-boyfriend (now my husband) told me he would propose if I learned to make frijoles negros (black beans). Only one woman was willing to teach me, show me the way, and share all her recipes; my Tía Lourdes.

I’ll never forget driving down to her house in Miami to spend a week with her so she could teach me to cook in the name of love. I had never truly been in love before, and I remember telling her all about Miguel and how I wanted to learn to cook for my boyfriend, who loved Cuban food. She gave me all the cooking advice and taught me the foundations of our culture’s food.

I returned from that trip with a small arsenal of recipes. When I made her frijoles negros for Miguel, he just looked at me, and I knew I had nailed them. I remember I nodded, stuck out my hand, wiggled my ring finger, and said, “size 7”.

I am sharing my most treasured written recipe with you in honor of my aunt and that memory.

iBuen provecho!

Tía Lourdes’ Cuban Frijoles Negros (Black Beans)

Servings 8 people
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 1 d 4 hrs

Ingredients

Optional:

Instructions

Prepare the beans the day before

  • Pour the beans into the pot. Comb through them with your hands, removing any debris or stones you may find.
  • Rinse the beans thoroughly until the water runs clear. You have to fill, swish, discard the water and repeat 2-3 times.
  • Fill the pot containing the beans halfway with water. Cover with the lid and allow to soak for 12-24 hours.

To make the beans:

  • Discard the water from the soaking beans. Rinse them thoroughly and fill the pot halfway with water.
  • Add ½ green pepper (with seeds and stem removed), 2 bay leaves, and 1 tsp of salt to the pot and set to boil over high heat.
  • Once boiling, lower heat to medium-high and boil for 45 minutes or until the water almost disappears.
  • Add 4 cups of hot water and return to a boil for 45 minutes or until the water almost disappears.
  • Add 4 cups of hot water and return to a boil for 45 minutes or until the water almost disappears.
  • Add 4 cups of hot water and return to a boil for 45 minutes or until the water almost disappears.

Meanwhile, the beans are boiling (halfway through step 6):

  • Remove the seeds and stems from the remaining ½ green pepper on a cutting board. Leave the seeds in the ajícitos (sweet chili peppers). With the chef's knife, dice the peppers and onion.
  • Using the flat side of the knife, smash the garlic cloves, splitting the skins and releasing the oil for easy peeling. Mince the garlic cloves. Add ¼-½ tsp of salt to the garlic, hold the blunt side of the knife with both hands, and with your knife at a slight angle, drag the sharp edge across the garlic (pulling towards you) to make garlic paste.
  • In a sauté pan, add ½ cup Spanish olive oil over medium heat and heat the oil for about 2 minutes. Test the heat by adding 1 dice of the green pepper; if the oil sizzles, it's ready.
    Add the rest of the diced peppers, onion, garlic paste, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, and ½ tsp ground cumin. Stir frequently so that the garlic doesn't burn and cook until soft and the onions are translucent, approximately 6-8 minutes. This medley is known as sofrito.
  • Taste the beans. Check if they are soft and have the desired mouthfeel. They should "melt." Otherwise, add 2 cups of hot water, boil for 30 more minutes and check again. Repeat if necessary.
  • Once the beans are soft, add the sofrito from the sauté pan, ½ cup vino seco (dry cooking wine), and 3 culantro leaves. Taste for salt and adjust according to your personal taste.
  • Optional: Add ½-1 tsp granulated sugar.
  • Cook to thicken the beans. You will know when the beans are sufficiently thick when they should coat the mixing spoon.

Pro tips:

  • For a thicker consistency, using the mixing spoon, mash some beans along the inside of the pot and stir to combine.
  • For black bean soup, don't thicken.
  • When boiling the beans in steps 2-6, leave the mixing spoon in the pot. This trick helps prevent the water from bubbling over.

Notes

How to include your child(ren):
  1. Sharpen your little chef(s) cognitive development by allowing them to sort through the beans.
  2. Point out any stones they may find and compare them to the beans.
  3. Allow them to get their hands on the beans for some sensory play.
  4. Instead of rinsing the beans in the pot, have your little chef(s) sort the beans from the bag into a colander, and they can rinse them under running water, sharpening their fine motor skills.
They can even practice counting by using the beans. Use this time as a way to not only sharpen their cognitive skills but as a fun activity to sharpen their math skills, too!
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: beans, black beans, cuban, cuban food, frijoles, frijoles negros

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below, tag @domesticgourmet on Instagram, and hashtag #domesticgourmet.

Join the Conversation

  1. Libby Courrau says:

    Awesome!

    1. Thank you!

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