I first tried Cuban food at the venerable Versailles Restaurant on Venice Blvd. I love the place for its Roast Chicken and Roast Pork. I think everyone in L.A. has eaten there at least once. And the price is right, just $11.99 for dinner, which includes black beans, white rice, fried plantains with a basket of delicious Cuban bread.
Now, the bedrock to any Cuban dining experience is black beans and white rice. White rice is simple enough - I have no special technique - just follow package directions. But I do have a few tricks to up the flavor profile for canned black beans (or any canned beans you may favor).
All you have to do is saute a little onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a teaspoon of vinegar, and sprinkle in some oregano. Mix it into a small pot of black beans and cook for 10 - 15 minutes. It's so simple but makes a lot of difference.
When I roast a hunk of pork, I'll put on a pot of black beans made from scratch, since they are both slow cooking (Go to the end of this post to read that recipe.) But most of the time I go with convenience and just use pre-cooked black beans.
So next time you get a cheap can of beans, try out my delicious veggie additions for extra flavor to make boring canned beans into something savory. And be sure to check back for more Cubano recipes!
- 1 can of black beans
- 1/4 small onion
- 1/4 of a bell pepper - any color.
- 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic - fresh or from a jar.
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar - any type you have on hand like white, apple, or rice vinegar.
- 1 tablespoon of oil - vegetable or olive oil.
- Pinch of oregano - fresh or dried (optional).
- Pinch of pepper - canned beans have enough salt for my taste.
In a pot over medium heat, add oil and saute onion and bell pepper until soft, about 5 - 10 minutes. Next, add chopped garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
Next, add a can of black beans and a teaspoon of vinegar. Turn up the heat until the beans start boiling, then reduce. Cook on low heat, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will reduce and thicken.
This recipe also works well with canned red, white, and pinto beans, and with black-eyed peas.
*For fresh-made, follow the directions on a package of dried beans. First, add a tablespoon of oil in a large pot and saute a whole chopped onion and bell pepper for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add a tablespoon of garlic during the last minute of cooking. I like to cook veggies with a couple of bacon slices (if you want to keep it vegetarian, leave it out).
Pour in 8 cups of water and add the black beans.
Once the beans are added and cooking, you can add the sauteed veggies, including grease, to the pot at any point.
Add a teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste, and finally, sprinkle in a teaspoon of dried or fresh oregano and a whole bay leaf.
For more flavor, you can substitute an equal amount of chicken or vegetable stock for a portion of the water when cooking beans. During the last hour of cooking, I uncover the pot so the liquid cooks down and thickens slightly. Check on the beans a few times to make sure the water doesn't totally cookout.