A very good friend of mine, my mentor, Lyle Bonge, gave me this recipe for black bean stew.
Combine black beans with more garlic than you think possible, and more ham than you think possible. Simple and to the point and delicious.
He also taught me my basic philosophy about cooking. A recipe is only a suggestion. Do you like one of the ingredients more than others? Then add more. Don’t like one of the ingredients? Add less.
I love black beans, they seem so Cuban, which means we should also add some cumin to the garlic and ham. I'd also like to add a few pinches of red pepper flakes, and maybe a diced jalapeño as well.
As for the beans, if you want to be frugal, use dried beans and let them soak overnight, or use the pressure cooker short cut. If you are in a hurry, use best quality canned beans, but just be sure to wash off the goop.
BONGE’S BLACK BEANS
2 cups cooked black beans
1 diced red onion
1 cup chopped ham or pulled pork
4-6 cloves chopped garlic
1-2 pinches cumin
1-3 pinched red pepper flakes
1-2 diced jalapeños
1-2 cups chicken stock
Sauté the ham in oil until browned, add the onion and cook 5 minutes more. Season aggressively with cumin and freshly ground black pepper. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add 1/2 cup of black beans and enough stock to cover. Simmer until the beans start to break down and the stew becomes thick. Add the remaining beans and simmer 10 minutes more. Serve with crusty fresh baked bread.