All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
After discovering recently that I have spent an average of $717 a month on groceries – I am endeavoring to eat more cheaply for the near future. I am going to start eating lots of frozen leftovers & start getting creative with the inexpensive basic ingredients my cabinets already hold.
Beans are a fun place to start. VERY cheap – especially if you go with dry beans – and they are good for you – and they can be flavored in infinite ways. My Spicy Barbecue Baked Beans came out incredibly & had my house smelling like a Kansas City BBQ shack for days. I am also oddly satisfied by the use of a crock pot – or slow cooker. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly about the process that makes me so happy (Its ease? A home smelling of old-fashioned cooking? A mass quantity of food taking so little effort? I don’t know) but it does. I had a bag of black beans in my cabinet – given to me recently by my good friend Jerry Agee as he packed up his Los Angeles life & moved it to Costa Rica.
Here he is with his outrageously cool son, Dash. I am pleased to report that I have two close friends with sons named Dash – inspired in some part – by my awesome wolf hybrid, Dashiell Hammett:
Dashiell (the wolf) passed away in 2001 but he sure left an impression on those who had the great honor to know him.
Anyway – it seems packing & shipping black beans (and many other grains & oils) to Costa Rica was inefficient so I was given a windfall of healthy food items to experiment with.
I neglected to measure these beans BEFORE I soaked them. I know that – post-soak – there were eight cups. I’m guessing that means there were 6-7 cups dry. This recipe is SO NOT an effort of precision – I wouldn’t worry too much about the bean quantity. This recipe would be greatly accelerated by the use of canned beans – so if time is not on your side – by all means – go canned. Also – unlike my BBQ beans that slow cooked for four days & remained al dente – these black beans were creamy soft after 6 hours or less. I slow cooked them for 6 hours or so, turned them off & left them out overnight & then cooked them on high for another several hours the next day. They came out wonderfully – despite my fear that the extra cooking would break the softer beans down completely & turn the dish to mush. While that did not happen – know that, even stove-top, dry black beans are ready to eat in just a few hours. The inclusion of orange juice & lots of lime juice give these bean a lighter & more refreshing flavor than typically associated with bean dishes.
A note about soaking beans – apparently the longer they soak (AT LEAST overnight) – the less gassy they will leave you & your dining companions. Also – beans served with rice create a complete protein – so this dish is very good for you as well as mighty tasty! Beans are a superfood and are a great addition to a weigh-loss-intended diet. AND – the bean water that your beans soaked in overnight is apparently very good for outdoor plants so feel free to really use a lot of extra water for soaking & then give it to your outdoor plants.
Oh – and here is a great tidbit of info to avoid GENETICALLY MODIFIED produce. See the number on the sticker on this onion?
Here is what that number means to YOU:
You should copy this photo & save it to your phone to remind you when you go shopping.
Slow Cooker Caribbean Black Beans
Slow Cooker Caribbean Black Beans
8 cups black beans (AFTER soaking – having soaked overnight – or maybe 6-7 cups before soaking)
2 large carrots – diced
8 mushrooms – diced
1 large sweet onion – diced
2 jalapenos – seeded & diced (optional)
4 celery stalks (with leafy tops) – diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro – some reserved for garnish
2 TBS olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves – whole
4 chipotle peppers & 2 TBS of their Adobo sauce (less if you hate spice) – chopped very fine (optional)
3 TBS jarred mole (VERY optional)
6 oz orange juice
juice of two limes (more if your limes are on the dry side) – and additional wedges as garnish
8-10 cups water
1 TBS black pepper
1 TBS cumin
1 TBS oregano
1 TBS crushed red pepper (less if spice bothers you)
1 TBS salt
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
Diced mango as garnish (optional)
Soak the beans overnight in several inches of water. I neglected to measure them dry but there were 8 cups after soaking overnight. So – go with 6-7 cups of dry beans. Drain. Rinse the beans very well & add to your slow cooker.
Heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic & saute for one minute. Add the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms & jalapenos. If you have a family member that hates mushrooms or something – chop them REALLY fine & they disappear in the mix. See?
Saute until all the vegetables begin to soften – maybe 5-10 minutes. Add this & all the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Start with 8 cups of water & increase it as needed – or put all ten cups in – if you are going away from the cooker all day. Cook on high for 6-8 hours. Serve with cilantro garnish & extra lime wedges – and with diced mango (if using).
Coconut-Lime Brown Basmati Rice with Cilantro
2 cups brown basmati rice (or other rice of your choice)
2 shallots – diced
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped cilantro & extra for garnish
zest of one large lime
juice of one large lime
Lime wedges for garnish
coconut milk (quantity should be 1/4 – 1/2 of the total liquid required for the rice you are using) – I used one cup here.
Zest the lime. Chop the cilantro.
Heat the oil in a large stock pot. Add the diced shallots & saute one minute. Add the dry rice & saute 2-3 minutes – stirring constantly.
Read the directions on your rice & add whatever amount of liquid they suggest – but replace 1/4 to 1/2 of it with the coconut milk (3 parts water – 1 part coconut milk).
Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat. Wrap the lid to your pan in a dish towel & place it on top of the pan. Be SURE no part of the towel is in danger of catching on fire. If this seems tricky – just lose the towel. It is meant to capture excess liquid but it is not critical – especially if it isn’t safe.
Steam the rice like this for as long as your package suggests. Remove from heat & let sit – undisturbed – for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork & add the lime zest, lime juice, salt & cilantro. Mix well. Serve with cilantro & lime wedges for garnish.