Cuban Black Beans

Classic, traditional and almost fool-proof. This is how my mami makes it and her mami made it and her mami before her made it…

Note: You DO need a pressure cooker for this recipe. I know, I know they look dangerous but it is a standard tool in all Cuban households.  I guess you could use canned beans, but if you do, be sure to rinse them first.  I read online that 1 pound of dried beans = approximately 4 (15 oz.) cans of beans.


  • 1 lb of dried black beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • water

Fill a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the beans (one inch or so of margin above the beans. Be sure that the water does not exceed the maximum water line on your pressure cooker). Put on high heat, until the pressure cooker begins to whistle.  Turn the heat down to medium and cook for approximately 45 minutes.  Be sure to depressurize the pot BEFORE you attempt to open it.  To do that, carry the pot to the sink and run cold water on the outside.  When it appears that all the steam/pressure has subsided, open the pot.  You can also release pressure by pressing on the valve with a fork, until the steam subsides.

Now, on to the Sofrito, the “Holy Trinity” of latin cooking:

  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 1/2 green pepper, small dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • white wine vinegar, splash
  • sugar, pinch
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, sauté the onions, peppers in olive oil until translucent (do not brown).  Add the garlic, cumin and oregano.  Once it is well heated, add a ladleful of beans into this pan and cook for a minute or two then empty the contents of this pan back into the Black Bean pot. With the ladle, mash down a couple of times to thicken and add consistency to the beans.  Mix well.  Add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of sugar to the pot.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer.  Taste and add more salt/pepper as needed.

If the beans appear too watery, mash them a bit.  If the beans appear to thick, add a little water.  They are easily corrected.

Serve over long grain white rice.

Courtesy: Marta, Family Recipe.

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