Bang-for-your-buck Black Beans

Black beans. Photo by Keri White

This dish was an add-on to a Mexican-style short rib dinner we had recently. We were about 30 minutes from serving and my husband said, “We should have black beans, too.”

Generally, that would be a two-hour enterprise, with the dried beans simmering slowly on the stove. But canned black beans did the trick. The dish came together quickly and wound up stealing the show — no small feat given the ancho-braised short ribs that shared the stage.

I called the dish “bang-for-your-buck black beans” from a comment my husband made at the table. The short ribs were delicious but required a good bit of work and a lengthy braise in the oven. The cumin-roasted butternut squash was also tasty, but took time to prep and cook. Ditto the pickled onions. As we all enjoyed the various dishes on the table, my husband said, “In terms of getting the most ‘bank for your buck’, the black beans win!” We all agreed.

Bang-for-your-buck Black Beans

Serves 4

We had some surplus canned chipotles in adobo from the short ribs, but if you don’t have them you can skip or substitute some smoked paprika, cayenne, a glug of your favorite hot sauce or additional chopped chili pepper.

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle in adobo, minced

1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno

¼ teaspoon salt

1 scant handful chopped cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium and sauté the onions, garlic, chipotle, jalapeno, salt and cilantro until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the beans and stir. Lower the heat and simmer for anywhere from 15-45 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add some water or broth if the mixture seems too dry.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and serve.


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