Kiko's House can now certainly be considered middle aged. After all, it has been over 10 years since it toddled into the blogosphere. One of the things of which I am most proud is that on an average day nearly half of all visitors to this blog are as a result of Google searches for a particular topic of interest.
The leading search topic by far is this post on the cancer epidemic in American Golden retrievers, which gets over 100 pageviews a day and has generated well over 200 comments since its initial publication in 2006, most from people who have lost their beloved Goldie to cancer and find some comfort in being able to share their grief. The third leading topic, with a scant 10 or so pageviews a day, is this post on the true story of the Black Dahlia Avenger, which is L.A. Confidential for real.
Anyhow, the second leading search topic is this recipe for Jamaican-style black beans, which draws about 15 lost souls a day. People who have eaten these black beans say they are to die for although, to my knowledge, I haven't killed anyone who has eaten them in the 10 years I've been making them. And of course there is a somewhat larger lesson: People may be drawn to stories about illness, death and gore, but they still gotta eat.
This recipe works on several levels. If you refrain from drinking the rum you don't use in the recipe, the dish is ridiculously inexpensive. It's easy and quick to make, and nutritious. And the result freezes and thaws beautifully, which in my case means I can make a big batch and put most of it away for use weeks or months later.
6 tablespoons cooking oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 medium red and green bell peppers, seeded and diced
6 medium-sized celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons crushed oregano
6 cups Goya or other brand pre-cooked black beans, drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons orange juice
4 tablespoons dark rum
Salt and pepper to taste
If you like it hot, substitute one bell pepper with two to four green chilies or one big honking poblano, which while not as quite as hot as chilies, have a really great flavor.
In a large iron skillet or heavy saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat.
Add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
Add peppers and celery, cook 3 minutes longer.
Add cumin and oregano and cook briefly, stirring.
Add beans, lemon juice, orange juice, rum and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add water to think the mixture as necessary to a desired consistency.
Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, or longer if you like the beans to be softer.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS . . .
There is no limit to the ways you can serve these: As a stew. On rice. As a side dish with shrimp. Atop Mexican-style nachos. Wrapped in flour tortillas or as a quesadilla filling, both with Monterey jack cheese. As a hors d'ouvre with toasted ciabatta bread. As a festive surprise hat for your mother-in-law.
Garnishes can include guacamole and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, although I prefer a healthy dose of Cajun hot sauce.
. . . AND A WORD TO THE WISE
Many herbs and some spices have relatively short shelf lives, and this dish is best with the freshest of ingredients. If, for example, the cumin and oregano on your spice rack date back to the Bush administration, chuck them and start with new batches, preferably purchased from an herb shop or health food store.
You will be amazed at the difference, and how fresh herbs really ramp up a dish like Jamaican-style black beans.