I spent some time shelling mitla black beans from last year's garden today so that we could have some black beans and rice for dinner tonight. I've got several sacks filled with dried pods - one might think that the proper time for shelling beans would be in the winter. And so it might if anything about this crazy world made any sense. Anyway, the mitla black bean goes back in time - some say back to the Aztecs. I found the seeds in a Native seed program catalog quite some years ago and have been growing them ever since. The traditional way to grow beans of this sort is called "Three Sisters" planting (the three sisters being corn, beans, and squash). You plant the corn in a mound and then plant the beans and squash around the corn. The beans grow up the corn stalk and the squash spreads over the ground. All three sisters are said to be harmonious and good for each other. Just like my three daughters who are truly my very own blessing!
There are some really nice Three Sisters recipes here but the recipe I'm going to give you today is not a 3 sisters dish. Just beans and rice - but REALLY good beans and rice.
Mitla Black Beans and Rice
- 1 pound black beans (2 cups), soaked overnight or boiled for one minute and left to sit for 1 hour
- 2 smoked pork chops
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 diced onion
- 2 -3 cloves garlic
- bay leaf
- 1 tsp cumin (or more)
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp epazote (an herb that lends a very distinctive, almost smoky flavor) - optional
- hot red pepper flakes - I use a tbsp but some like it hotter
- salt to taste
- 1 bottle dark beer, like Guinness
- 1/4 cup flour
- Brown rice, cooked
Cook the beans with the pork chop, red pepper flakes, and bay leave until the beans are tender and can be smashed with a fork easily. This can take hours and seems to depend on the softness of the water. When the beans are tender, saute the onions, peppers, and garlic in olive oil. Stir in the flour and when the vegetables are coated add that Guinness slowly, stirring all the while. You probably won't need the whole bottle of beer so you can drink the rest while you thicken the roux. Add the peppers et al to the beans and season with the cumin, epazote, oregano, salt (if it needs it). Simmer slowly for 30 minutes and serve over brown rice. A dollop of sour cream on the top is nice.