A confession: I avoided black beans for nearly a decade, after being scarred by my mother’s frequent cooking of them during my high school years. Thanks to the open floor plan of my childhood home, the scent wafted throughout the house relentlessly. I don’t know why it was so offensive at the time, but just the mention of black beans made me nauseous for years after I left home.
Fast forward a few years, with a new baby in the house, and it became unavoidable as I researched real food options for babies that I would, in fact, have to learn to cook black beans. (Black beans are a good source of protein, iron, magnesium and folate.) It was one thing to order black beans on the side when out to eat, but I still shied away from making them at home.
Recently, the boy requested that we start observing “Taco Tuesday.” Now, he doesn’t eat tacos, but that didn’t deter him from the idea. He figured I’d make him a quesadilla and the rest of us would have tacos. For week one, I made these cider baked beans and pork carnitas. Week two I had less time, so used chicken breast for the meat — but the boy was so excited about the beans that he decided to try a bean and cheese “taco” (really, more like a burrito). And last night he asked for it again — so I think we have a winner on our hands. Now, I also used bacon in the beans — so it’s not a meatless recipe — but it won praise from my previously bean-adverse husband as well.
You could use dried beans and cook this the slow way — but thanks to my favorite Eden Foods canned beans (BPA-free and no added salt), this can be ready in 20 minutes flat. Just enough time to warm tortillas and prep the other taco fillings and accompaniments. (I think half the reason the boy requested taco night was for the all-important tortilla chips and salsa.) Thanks to the Washington Post, whose recipe for cider baked beans inspired me to add the sweet boiled cider here.
Recipe: Cider Black Beans with Bacon
- 1-2 slices bacon, chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons boiled cider*
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch salt and black pepper
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add beans, stir and cook one minute. Add boiled cider and water and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring just once or twice, for about 15 minutes (until most of the liquid is absorbed). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown rice, tortillas, and thinly sliced peppers, shredded carrots or other favorite vegetables. Makes 4 servings.
[*Note: if you don't have boiled cider on hand, replace the boiled cider and water with fresh apple cider. Alternatively, you could swap it for pure maple syrup.]
Do you have a theme dinner night at your house?