How do I cook fresh black beans?
August 31, 2008 9:10 AM   Subscribe

What should I do with these fresh (not dried, not canned) black beans?

I have 1 pound and can't find even basic cooking instructions. In "How to Cook Everything," Mark Bittman doesn't even acknowledge that you can buy them fresh. I'd like mostly vegetarian suggestions, but I'll take omnivore advice, too.
posted by Airhen to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check out the bottom of this page
posted by shrabster at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2008

Black beans...and rice
Black beans...and rice
Black beans...and rice
Cuban style!

(You kind of have to picture me singing this and doing a little happy dance, because this is tasty and easy).

You can use dry black beans in any recipe that calls for canned. Just soak overnight in water, using 4 cups water to 1 pound beans. Then you can either cook them in a pressure cooker (for about half an hour) or you can simmer them. If you're simmering, add liquid (water or broth) so that there's about an inch of liquid above the beans. Simmer partially covered and skim off the foam if a bunch develops. It takes about an hour and a half here at sea level.

If you've got a pressure cooker, here's my recipe (from America's Test Kitchen). You can omit the chorizo.

Soaking the beans overnight will ensure creamy, evenly cooked beans. If you forget to soak the beans, rinse the beans, then microwave them in a large bowl with enough water to cover on high power for 15 minutes. Drain and proceed with the recipe. Serve with sour cream and Tabasco.

Serves 6 to 8
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound chorizo sausage or linguiƧa sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 onions , chopped medium
1 red bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and chopped medium
4 teaspoons ground cumin
Table salt
12 cloves garlic , minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound dried black beans (2 cups), picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Ground black pepper
Lime wedges (for serving)

1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chorizo and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to a small bowl and refrigerate, leaving the rendered fat behind in the pressure cooker (you should have at least 2 teaspoons but if not, substitute vegetable oil for the missing fat).

2. Return the pressure cooker with the rendered fat to medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, bell pepper, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in the broth, black beans, bay leaves, half of the oregano, and the red pepper flakes, scraping up any browned bits.

3. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Cook for exactly 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain high pressure.

4. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 20 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Carefully remove the lid, allowing the steam to escape away from you. Discard the bay leaves.

5. Stir in the browned chorizo. Replace the lid (do not lock) and let the beans sit off the heat until the chorizo is hot, 10 to 15 minutes. Before serving, stir in the remaining oregano and the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the lime wedges.

Also, this black bean soup is tasty:

Good luck. Yum! Just, um, don't schedule any social activities for a couple of hours afterwards.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

Smoky Chipotle Beans with Wilted Spinach and Masa Gnocchi

1 pound black beans
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion chopped
6 garlic cloves chopped
12 ounces ripe plum tomatoes or one 15-oz. can whole tomatoes
4 canned chipotle chiles en adobo roughly chopped
salt to taste
1 cup dried masa harina mixed with 1/2 cup hot water or
1/2 pound fresh smooth ground corn masa for tortillas
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
10 ounces spinach stemmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick (baby spinach if possible)

1. Simmering the beans. Pour the beans into a 5-6 quart pot or Dutch oven. Measure in 2 1/2 quarts water, then remove any beans that float (they aren't fully formed). Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the onion and garlic. Bring to a strong rolling boil, then reduce heat to low to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer. Any more than a slight rolling movement in the liquid will cause the beans to break up during cooking. Add water as needed to keep the level roughly the same, until the beans are thoroughly tender, two hours or longer.

2. Seasoning the beans. For fresh tomatoes: roast them on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, about 6 minutes. Flip them over and roast on the other side; another six minutes. Cool the tomatoes. Pull off and discard the blackened skins and cut out the hard cores. Transfer to a food processor or blender, along with the juices from the baking sheet. For canned tomatoes: drain and place in a food processor or blender.

Add the chipotles to the tomatoes, then process to a smooth puree. Add the puree to the beans along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Partially cover and simmer, stirring frequently for 15 minutes.

3. The masa dumplings. In a medium bowl, mix the masa with the remaining tablespoon of oil, the baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roll into balls the size of marbles (you will get about 30), pressing a dimple into each one with your finger. Place them on a plate as you go.

Bring a saucepan of water to boil; reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and season the water with about 2 teaspoons of salt. Add half of the masa dumplings and simmer gently until all have risen to the surface and are cooked through, about 3 minutes (test one by cutting in half -- should but soft, but not doughy). Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Repeat with the remaining dumplings. Cover with plastic wrap if not using right away.

4. Finishing the dish. Stir the spinach into the simmering beans, then lay the masa dumplings on top. Set the cover in place and remove the pot from the heat. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes until everything is heated through. With a large spoon serve up bowls of the bean stew, mixing in the dumplings but being careful not to break them up.

Working ahead. This dish can be made through step 3, in fact, it's a little better after a day. Store the beans and dumplings in the fridge, covered. Finish step 4 just before serving.

5. Enjoy, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
posted by netbros at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2008

Oh, I forgot to say...if you're using the beans in a soup or in a recipe that doesn't call for canned beans, you don't have to simmer them...just soak overnight. Some people say that you can just soak them for a couple of hours, or boil them for a few minutes, but it really works better to do the overnight thing.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:02 AM on August 31, 2008

Best answer: I looked up fresh beans in The Bean Bible by Aliza Green. She says: "beans that are fresh-shelled and not dried .... should be treated like fresh vegetables and cooked in salted, boiling water until tender." Also, bring the water back to a boil after adding beans, and stir so they cook evenly; rinse in cold water afterward. The book doesn't give any cooking times so you'll need to test for doneness. The only fresh beans I've cooked are limas and they take at least 10 minutes, but I imagine black beans could be different from limas.

Once they're cooked, you can use them in any black bean recipe.
posted by daikon at 10:30 AM on August 31, 2008

Best answer: I also meant to include: fresh beans don't need soaking, this is also from The Bean Bible.
posted by daikon at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2008

Argggg, sorry, I somehow read that the beans were dried.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:45 AM on August 31, 2008

I've not had experience with fresh shelling beans, but I'd imagine that the only really big difference would be in cooking time -- take any recipe that calls for dried black beans, and instead of doing what it says to do with the dried beans (i.e., soaking and then cooking for a couple hours, usually), just substitute cooking those fresh beans a few minutes until tender. Then go on with the rest of the recipe as usual.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:19 AM on August 31, 2008

I'm planning on knocking up a yellow corn and black bean salsa tomorrow evening (probably involving garlic, onion, green chilli and coriander leaf, plus a little chicken stock). I'll be using dried beans, but I imagine it'd be even better with fresh. Garnished (liberally) with ancho-rubbed chicken and Corona.
posted by kxr at 12:09 PM on August 31, 2008

And I gotta say, suggestions up there from LMC and netbro will most likely account for the rest of this bag o' beans.
posted by kxr at 12:13 PM on August 31, 2008

Response by poster: In terms of recipes, I'm looking for things that take advantage of the fact that the beans are fresh -- if there even is a flavor advantage to using fresh beans. Is there? For instance, does it make sense to make something simple to highlight the beans themselves?
posted by Airhen at 12:17 PM on August 31, 2008

Best answer: I don't have experience with black beans, but with fresh broad beans and climbing beans I have had success with something like this:

- fine-chopped onion, gently sauteed in oil or with little cubes of your favourite cured meat, until transparent and soft
- add the beans, a whole clove of garlic, and some fresh thyme
- add enough stock/white wine/salted water to almost cover, and braise until beans are soft.

No way would I use these in any recipe for dried beans. According to my Italian cookbooks, fresh beans are quite the treat, so approaches that turn them to mush/drown them in spices are kind of wasting them.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:39 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Been to the JFX market, eh?

I usually boil them for 10-15 min. (until tender) with a scrunched up dried dundicott chili (no reason another kind couldn't be used, this is what I have on hand, bet you could get them at the Indian market a block from the Waverley market). This gives them a slight smokey background taste, not hot at all. Then I drain and eat, usually over rice.
posted by QIbHom at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2008

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