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How to cook black beans at home: Heavenly Frijoles de Olla

I'm not a very patient person, so when it comes to cooking, although I like making quite a few things from scratch, I also enjoy the convenience of certain things. Canned beans are some of those convenient ingredients I like to have on hand. Open a can and you can add chickpeas to cucumber/tomato salad, black beans to a rice salad or white beans to a tuna salad. What's not to love?

Earlier this year, however, when I took a Mexican cooking class taught by Patricia Jinich, as part of my "thank you" gift, I received a bag of Goya black beans. Great, I thought, now I'll have to cook them.

You see, I've cooked beans from scratch once before, and found the result rather disappointing, not to mention it took forever. So this time, I decided to ask Patricia how to cook the beans and she tweeted me back with the instructions.

Heavenly Frijoles de Olla {Pot of Beans}

1) rinse 16 ounces of black beans
2) add them to a large heavy bottomed pot (I used my 5.5 quart Le Creuset)
3) add 3 liters of water (about 12 cups)
4) add peeled and quartered white onion
5) bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 2-3 hours
6) add 2 teaspoons of salt at the end

Easy enough, I thought.

And that's exactly what I did last week. The only change I made was that I added a chunk of Parmesan cheese while cooking the beans.

A little side note, when I was little, my dad called me Olla because my name in Russian is Olya, who knew that in Spanish it means a little pot? :)

The beans took me almost 3 hours to cook and my entire studio smelled like them, but I did not mind. The flavor is definitely so much better than what you can get from a can. I'm not saying I'll give up the convenience of canned beans, but maybe I'll make the ones from scratch a bit more often now.

I've had the beans with rice and tomatoes, added them to salads and also used them in a Chicken Tortilla Soup. Recipe later this week, but here's a preview:

What's your opinion on cooking beans? What's your favorite variety? How do you use them?


Olga @ MangoTomato said...

good question: you drop the onion when you add the beans and the liquid to the pot.

also, I should point out I did not soak the beans, just rinsed them.

Molly said...

I soak my beans overnight and cook them in my trusty pressure cooker. For most beans it takes between 6 and 11 minutes. Couldn't be happier with the results.

Anonymous said...

what does it mean to "drop" the onion? Just add it? Thanks! These look yummy.

Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray said...

These look good, little pot! :) The only thing I usually use dried beans for is bean soup. I'll have to try this.

Laura said...

I'm a Rancho Gordo addict. Especially love Rio Zape and Eye of the Goat beans.

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

These look so good and I love the post

Lighthousegal said...

I love cooking beans. So many varieties. Mix them, add them to other dishes, serve them as a side dish or as your meal.

When I was a kid, we always raised a big garden and we often would allow some of the green beans to dry on the vines. Then shell the beans and freeze them to have all winter. These are probably my favorite.

I usually do not soak my beans. No matter what kind I am cooking. I just rinse and cook.

When we heated with wood, the wood stove was the perfect place to cook them. They cook very slowly this way and are so good.
I like to add onion after they begin to cook and them add a medium Chunk of ham to them after a bit. The ham not only flavors them very well but becomes so tender and flavored by the beans.
If I don't have a ham on hand, I add a couple slices of bacon.

Sarah said...

This is so good to know...I have yet to delve into making beans from a bag. Thank you, Little Pot!

Fernando said...


If you know you're going to use beans in advance, you can just soak them in a pot of salted water overnight. That way, you get the convenience of canned beans but you don't get all the chemicals.

Just salt the water, bring it to a simmer (to disolve the salt), then cool to room temperature before adding the beans. You can even do this in the AM before leaving the house and they'll be ready to cook when you get home from work.

Anonymous said...

3 hours seems crazy but those beans look delicious and quite possibly worth it! i like your addition of parm i bet it added great flavor!

Lori said...

When we were living in Brazil, I had to cook beans from scratch so I was determined to keep that going when we moved back to the US. I love using the crockpot for beans. Everyone tells me I need to use a pressure cooker to make it go faster, but they scare me! :) These look delicious!