Hola, amigos! I am very happy that many of you enjoyed my easy Mexican chicken dinner recipe, so this time I have decided to share another simple and cheap dish with you- my homemade Mexican beans recipe!
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I must confess that even though I grew up surrounded by delicious Mexican food, I was not a big fan of beans. And beans are everywhere in Mexico!
There are eggs and beans, bean soup, beans and meat, pinto beans, white beans, beans in a stew, beans and rice, and so on. In fact, beans were a big thing in Mexico even way back in the days of the Aztec and the Maya. You get the picture.
The Family Recipe
Even though I had never cared for beans, when I got married I had to learn how to cook them because my husband just happens to love them.
My mother-in-law was kind enough to teach me her recipe, and it’s the one I’ve used ever since. In her final days, she couldn’t cook anymore, but I made a pot of beans for her. She said they tasted exactly like hers! My beans have not received a greater compliment.
Like I said, there are a thousand ways to cook beans in Mexico, but this the way I always do it.
How to cook wonderful Mexican homemade beans
First, you have to forget about the canned version. Honestly, that tastes like cardboard!
Go get a bag of dry, black beans. That’s what I call real food!
In Mexico, we have the metric system, so I usually buy a kilo of beans, which is about two pounds. I only cook half a bag at a time, so that means you’re going to need about a pound of beans.
You have to open the bag and let out a few beans at a time and sift through them to make sure there’s no little rocks or other debris in there. It’s no fun to bite down on a jagged little stone!
When you’re done sifting through a pound of beans, put them in a colander and rinse them.
Now, you’re supposed to let them soak overnight to soften them. To be honest, I don’t always remember to do this, but they cook a lot better this way. So just let them soak in cold water as you sleep, and you can start cooking them in the morning. That’s how I usually do it.
The next day, strain the water out of the beans and they’re ready to go into the pot. I have a pressure cooker that I use almost exclusively to make beans.
Just put the beans in a pressure cooker, and fill it up with water about three-fourths capacity. Don’t use the water that you soaked them in! Add a small onion and about a tablespoon and half of salt.
Traditionally, beans are cooked with a herb called epazote, or Mexican tea. It eases digestion, and it gives the beans a distinctive, somewhat minty flavor. However, my kids don’t like how it tastes, so I rarely use it.
Now you can start cooking the beans. The time will depend on the altitude where you live.
Mexico City lies at about 7300 feet above sea-level, which is a lot higher than Denver, so that means it takes me about two hours to cook beans in a pressure cooker.
My grandmother lives in the beautiful city of Cordoba, a lot closer to sea level, and she cooks beans in less than an hour. So, you can see cooking times can be very different!
You’ll know your beans are ready when they have doubled their size and they are completely soft.
You’ll see the water has turned into a dark-colored broth, which we are going to use.
If you’re hungry at this point, you could mix some beans with white rice. That makes for an amazing lunch! We’ll continue with the recipe after you’re done.
Beans Mash Up
The next step is to put some oil in a saucepan. Originally, this recipe called for lard, but I think that’s just too fatty, so I always use vegetable oil.
Heat the oil, reduce the heat to low, and spoon some beans into the saucepan with as little broth as possible.
Start mashing those beans, and when you’re done, add another big spoonful and keep mashing them. Keep doing this until you’ve mashed them all well.
Sometimes, I get impatient and just spoon in all of the beans at once and mash them all together, which is quicker but harder. This is one hell of an arm workout!
Dry Or Watery?
When all of the beans are mashed into a puree, pour the broth in.
If you want the beans to have more of a dry consistency, then use only a little bit of the broth. If you want the beans to be more watery, then use all of the broth. If necessary, you can even add more water.
My husband and my kids like watery beans, so I use up all of the broth and then some.
Finally, stir to mix the beans into the broth and bring to boil. Let them simmer for a few minutes and they’re done.
These beans can be served in a variety of ways!
You can have them with your scrambled eggs for breakfast. You can have a bowl topped with white cheese for lunch. You can have them on the side for dinner. You can spread them over toast to substitute for mayonnaise in a sandwich. You can put salsa in them. You can blend them to make cream of beans.
You can eat them so many ways and they are so cheap to make, I always a pot of them in the kitchen. Beans are a staple in the family!
In case you were wondering, I do not cook beans every single day. I make a big pot and once they´re cool, I store them in an airtight container and pop them in the fridge. They keep well for days!
Beans are also a symbol generosity in Mexico. Most Mexicans are always willing to welcome family, friends, or even complete strangers at their table at any time. The more, the merrier!
Here in Mexico, we have a saying: “Pour more water into the beans” (hay que echarle más agua a los frijoles), which means more people have unexpectedly shown up for dinner.
If any unannounced guests arrive, we just make the beans more watery and everyone can have a plate! There have been times when I’ve literally done this to welcome more people at my table. More beans, more tortillas, and we can all eat happily together!
If you ever come to Mexico, you are more than welcome to show up for dinner. I’ll have a big, hot, pot of beans on the stove. And if you decide to bring someone else, don’t worry. I’ll just pour more water into the beans and we’ll have a wonderful dinner. Tu casa es mi casa!