Beans require a little time to cook but they’re worth the wait—homemade black beans are deeply colored and rich in flavor and texture. Leftovers reheat beautifully—try serving them with a scoop of white rice for a meatless meal kids love.
Makes about 5 cups, serving 8
- 1 pound (about 2 ½ cups) dried black beans
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or vegetable oil)
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1 large sprig fresh epazote (optional, but delicious)
- Spread the beans out on a baking sheet and sort through them, removing any little stones or debris you encounter; scoop the beans into a colander and rinse.
- Pour the beans into a deep, medium-large (4- to 6-quart) pot. Measure in 2 ½ quarts water and remove any beans that float (they’re ones that are not fully formed). Add the bacon drippings (or oil), the chopped onion and the optional epazote. Bring to a strong rolling boil, then reduce the heat (low to medium-low on most stoves) to keep the liquid at a very gentle simmer—any more than a slight rolling movement will cause the beans to break up some during cooking. Set a cover slightly askew. Gently simmer until the beans are thoroughly tender, adding water as needed to keep the liquid level roughly the same, about 2 hours.
- Stir in 1 ½ teaspoons salt, simmer for15 minutes longer for the salt to be absorbed, then taste and season with additional salt if you think necessary. The beans are now ready to serve in small bowls.