People sometimes ask how I got “so into cooking.” It was probably because, growing up, we made everything from scratch. I mean everything. Say we wanted to make jell-o. Most people would pick up a box of Strawberry Jell-O®, add the hot water, stir, refrigerate, and be done with it, right? Not at our house, ha. I remember dissolving my little envelope of Knox-brand unflavored gelatin in water, and then adding a can of all natural Apricot Nectar. (Who drinks Apricot Nectar?!)
It was this way for other things, too. Pancakes or waffles—topped with homemade yogurt and honey—were a weekend ritual. On weekday evenings, I remember making spinach-ricotta lasagna or pan-fried pork chops with my mom. And at least once a week, my dad would make a big pot of black beans. His recipe is below.
If you find time to make a pot, you have lots of serving options. For a light dinner, mix a bowl of beans with simple white rice, top with fresh salsa, and serve with tortillas. Or, make nachos! Start by mashing up a few cups of the finished beans in a skillet (adding broth from the pot, as needed, for a thinner consistency). Then, spread the beans on tortilla chips, add your favorite toppings … like lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream (or lebni), jalapenos … and enjoy!
Dad’s Basic Black Beans
Makes 8-9 cups
1 lb. black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, minced, optional
½ to 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
Pick over beans, removing any debris. Wash thoroughly.
Place the beans in a large pot. Cover with water. Cook beans, uncovered, over medium heat for 1 hour. The water will evaporate as the beans cook; add more water as needed. (If possible, only add boiling water; this will keep the help maintain a stable cooking temperature.)
After an hour, add the garlic, Serrano pepper, and salt to the beans. Stir to combine. Continue cooking the beans until soft, about 30 more minutes. (Note that cooking times may vary depending on the size and freshness of the beans.) Season with additional salt as needed.
Serve immediately, or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.