Some years ago we had Caroline’s high school graduation party at Chevy’s Fresh Mex in San Francisco. At that time it was a small chain of two or three restaurants in SF. We all loved watching the tortilla machine.
When we have South of the Border Night at a family gathering, it’s nice to have an alternative to Refried Beans. Black beans are good for Big Bowls too.
These are the very best black beans I’ve ever tasted, adapted from Dinner in an Instant by Melissa Clark (2017). They take more effort than plain black beans, but you will be richly rewarded when you and your family or guests try them.
Presoak or not? The Instant Pot cooks the beans either way. If you do not presoak the beans, you need to put more water into the Instant Pot and you need to cook the beans longer. Below I give directions to cook the beans both ways.
Melissa Clark uses 3 poblano chiles and 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles. Instead of poblanos, I used thin-walled long red sweet chiles from the farmers’ market. Thin-walled chiles work better in this recipe than bell peppers. But roasting the peppers (whatever you use) is the key step.
Goya black beans now come in 14-ounce bags instead of full 16-ounce one-pound bags. I did not change the other ingredients and the beans were perfectly delicious. More flavoring, fewer beans.
3 poblano chiles
2 jalapeño chiles
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon rubbed sage (or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (if you use a hot chili powder 1 teaspoon will do)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pound dried black beans
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 medium-size ripe tomato, quartered
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Rinse the beans under running water to clean them of any pebbles or shriveled beans.
Optional: soak the beans 6 hours or overnight with water at least 3 inches above the beans. The beans will swell up.
Put the peppers on a metal sheet pan about 3 inches under the broiler. Turn them over after 6 minutes, then give them another 4 minutes. They should be blackened all over. Put them in a bowl and cover the bowl with a plate. Let the peppers sit half an hour or until they are cool enough to handle. Rub the skins off. Seed and dice the peppers.
- Set the Instant Pot on Sauté.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the Instant Pot. Stir in the onion and cook until golden, 12-15 minutes. Stir in the sage, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the peppers, beans, salt, and water. For unsoaked beans, use 6 cups of water. For soaked beans, use 2 1/2 to 3 cups of the soaking liquid, enough to cover the beans. (Using the soaking liquid adds flavor.)
- Lock the Instant Pot cover.
- Make sure the Vent is set to Sealing.
- Cancel the Sauté setting.
- Set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook.
- Press the Pressure Level button to select High Pressure.
- Set the Instant Pot cook time to
40 minutes for unsoaked beans
8 minutes for soaked beans
- Allow the pressure to release naturally.
If the beans aren’t cooked through, cook on high pressure for 5 more minutes and manually release pressure.
While the beans cook, in a blender combine the tomato, 2/3 of the cilantro, the scallion whites, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Blend to purée.
When the beans finish cooking, stir in the tomato purée. Let sit for 5 minutes. If the beans are too soupy, simmer on the Sauté setting for 5-10 minutes to thicken.
Garnish the beans with chopped cilantro, the green scallion tops, grated cheese, sour cream or whole-milk yogurt, and lime wedges. Add warm tortillas if you like.
For a smaller family, divide these beans into three containers and freeze two of them. Since the beans already have lots of flavor from the onion, peppers, and seasoning, dishes such as Tamale Pie and Pumpkin Chili come together very quickly.