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Basic Sofrito Black Beans


Pressure cooked Black Beans (substitute in recipes calling for canned). These have a rich earthy flavor and are quite spicy.

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  • 1 lb (2-1/4 cups) dried black beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 large onion (about 2-3/4" diameter, 150 gm)
  • 1 red bell pepper (about 1 cup/92 gm)
  • 3 Tb olive oil, divided
  • 1 head garlic (about 8 cloves, about 24 gm)
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB minced chipotle pepper (about 5 gm, optional, for a bit of earthy spiciness)
  • 2 tspn salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1 tspn dried oregano
  • 1/2 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1 arbol chili (optional, for real spicy)


Servings 14
Preparation time 20mins
Cooking time 80mins


Step 1

*Time Required:*

Most time is just waiting (soaking, pressure cooking). This is a big batch of beans, so you can save some for another night, which will save a lot of time. Two sessions:
(1) 15 minutes in the morning.
(2) 65 minutes in the afternoon.

*In the morning:*
Pick over the black beans to remove the ugly ones (shriveled or discolored ones, stones, etc). Bring 6 cups water, the 1 lb beans to boil (took about 10 minutes). Let boil for one minute. Turn off heat and soak for at least 1 hour, up to 6 hours.

*Prepare sofrito:*
Combine in coffee grinder: 2 tspn salt and the spices (1 TB minced chipotle pepper, 3 bay leaves, 8 sage leaves, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 arbol chili). Whirr to pulverize them. Add to blender with about 8 minced garlic cloves, 1 TB olive oil, 1 TB vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Pulse the blender. Let sit about 5 minutes so the garlic releases its flavor. Meanwhile, roughly the onion and the red pepper and add to the blender. Blend everything until smooth, then set the blender aside.

*In the afternoon, pressure cook:*
Add 2 Tb olive oil to the beans in the pressure cooker pot (no need to replace the liquid). Lock lid, heat to high pressure (takes about 13 minutes), then reduce to med-high heat and let rock 13 minutes. Turn off the heat and let pressure release naturally (takes about 20 minutes).

*Real cooking:*
After the pressure cooker cools and the pressure releases, remove 1/3 cup cooked beans, add to the blender with sofrito and blend until smooth. This makes about 2-1/2 to 3 cups of thick, light brown sofrito.

Reserve 1 cup liquid from the pot of beans. Pour the sofrito from the blender into the pot of beans, then use the cup of reserved liquid to rinse the rest of the sofrito from the blender, and pour it all into the pot. Simmer about 15 minutes over medium heat. Stir every couple of minutes, to fully mix in the solids collecting on the bottom. When a black crust starts to form between stirrings, it is done. Turn off the heat and mix the crust in.

*Freeze and Substitute for Canned:*
You will have about 7 cups of prepared black beans (about 14 servings), which can be divided among 4 pint-sized freezer containers (about 1-3/4 cups each) and used in any recipe that calls for a 15.5 oz. can of black beans.

Let cool, tighten lids and store in freezer. If you remember in the morning, thaw a container on the counter. Otherwise, you’ll need to thaw frozen beans. Either heat them in a rice cooker for about 20 minutes, or in a saucepan over low heat for about 15 minutes, breaking them apart every few minutes.

(1) Refried beans are very easy. One serving would be about 3/4 cup. Add a little olive oil to a skillet, just a bit more than you need to prevent sticking. Use an old-fashioned potato masher as you heat them. Obviously, you need to add minced garlic :).

(2) Black bean soup for 2-3 servings is very easy. Saute a finely diced small onion in some oil. Add a minced garlic clove and maybe a 1/4 tspn of ground cumin for about the last minute before adding 2 cups of broth and one container of black beans. Bring to a simmer. If you want to thicken it a little, you could add 1/4 tspn corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water or 1/4 tspn of chia seeds. Add a squeeze of lime juice, maybe a tspn or two, and serve hot. Great with guacamole.

(3) Soaking time can last, say, 1-6 hours. For black beans, 1 hour is minimum for digestibility, and 6 hours is maximum for firmness. If you like mushy beans, you can soak black beans overnight.

(4) Substitute any sofrito ingredients or recipes to your liking. Definitely add 1/3 cup of beans to the blender, since you need to release their starch to thicken the black bean sauce. The bay leaves will be pulverized into the sofrito, so no sharp edges. You won't need to remove them as in ordinary usage.

(5) Nutrition data: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Iron, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Folate. Each freezer container has about 26 g of high quality protein. At 3.5 half-cup servings per container, that's 7 grams protein/serving.

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