drunken & smokey

Who knew black beans could be so scandalous?

I feel kinda blasphemous for concocting this recipe. Amongst my family, black beans are a sacred food, and Abuela Miriam’s Cuban beans sit atop the highest altar. Every Christmas Eve for our Nochebuena celebration, she spends the entire day making three enormous pressure-cooked pots of them. They are a tad bit tangy, slightly tweet, and utterly addictive. Unfailingly, it’s soupy pools of Abuela’s famous beans that dominate everyone’s plates and palates, out-competing a whole roasted pig, mountains of fried plantains, and mojo-laden yuca. I’ve had the privilege of learning the secrets of Abuela’s black beans while cooking alongside her. I really should try my hand at making them myself, but I just know that they will not have the same je ne sais quoi if made without her, so I’ve sheepishly strayed from any attempts at recreation.

Instead, I’ve gone rogue on my black bean roots and tried my hand at something wildly different from Abuela’s recipe. These black beans are doused in a bottle of beer, brightened with the zest of a whole orange, and infused with the sultry flavor of smoked paprika. Rather than serve them with rice, I piled them high into a sweet potato, which made the perfect vehicle for the spicy, citrusy beans. While nothing can compare to Abuela’s recipe, these beans were pretty darn tasty. I can only hope that I won’t be banished from my family for the bastardization of our beloved black beans.

Drunken & Smokey Black Beans (adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp cumin

zest of an orange

2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz. beer

1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 tsp sriracha

salt and pepper

lime wedges, for serving

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add smoked paprika, cumin, and orange zest and cook for another minute. Add black beans, beer, tomato sauce, sriracha, and a generous dose of salt and pepper. Allow beans to simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often.

They were delicious served atop a sweet potato with a squeeze of lime, but I’d imagine they would be great with rice or corn tortillas and with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.

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