When I was in college in Texas, many years ago, my off-campus house was often the gathering place for friends. And when friends gathered, we made food – lots of it. As students we were on a strict budget, and many folks were vegetarian (for both political and budgetary reasons!) so we had to be creative. Of the many favorites during those days, which have carried through to my adulthood, one of the stand-outs was making a big pot of savory-sweet black beans.
Nothing irks me more when you order black beans at a restaurant and all you get is an unseasoned pile of starchy blandness. (Ok, well, plenty of things irk me, but come on....all it takes is a little salt and spices to jazz up beans.)
My friends and I came up with this recipe, which hasn’t morphed much in the (ahem) number of years since college, and I still love serving it at big gatherings. It would be a great addition to an alternative Mexican-inspired Thanksgiving spread alongside Mexican rice and chile-rubbed turkey with mole gravy. But it’s just as festive when served up over a bowl of white steamed rice with a pile of warm, fresh tortillas, the way we did it back in Texas so long ago (if you are really feeling fancy, top it with fresh tomato pico de gallo, shredded Jack cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.)
Be sure to soak your beans the night before as it helps plump them up, gives them better texture, and makes them cook a bit faster.
Recipe: Savory Black Beans
Makes 10–12 servings