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Slow-Cooked Black Beans
Slow-Cooked Black Beans Photo courtesy of Jake Gartland

After many failed attempts at making perfectly cooked beans at home, we firmly believe there’s a real art to preparing the simple dish. Fortunately, the people behind Morristown, New Jersey’s new truck-to-mortar restaurant The Taco Truck were willing to share their secrets. We tried their sublimely easy recipe (which uses onion, garlic and chile de árbol for a flavor boost) and ended up with a decidedly memorable pot of beans.

Makes 8 side-dish servings

1 medium white onion, halved

1 pound dried black beans--soaked overnight, rinsed and picked over

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 chiles de árbol

1. Finely chop half the onion and set aside the other half. In a large pot, combine the chopped onion with the black beans, garlic cloves and 9 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, adding more hot water to the pot if needed, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Stir in the salt and set aside.

2. Thinly slice the remaining onion half. In a small skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is blistered and browned, about 10 minutes. Tear the chiles into small pieces, add them to the onion and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. (You can seed the chiles, if desired.) Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the onion and chile mixture to a blender.

3. Add 1 cup of the cooked beans and liquid to the blender and blend until smooth. Stir the blended onion mixture into the pot with the black beans. Pour about ¼ cup water into the blender, swish it around, then add it to the beans to thin them slightly. Return the beans to the stove and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.

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