Recipes · Cooking tips · Techniques

Cuban Style Red Beans

Cuban Style Red Beans

When you think Cuban food, beans are usually on the menu. In Spanish this dish is called frijoles colorados, and they’re a staple in Cuban cuisine. The beans are made with simple ingredients including herbs, spices and pork. The pork used is typically an inexpensive cut. Smoked ham hocks or shanks, sausage, or a leftover, meaty ham bone are all good options. Cuban style red beans are traditionally served with white rice as a side dish, or as a stand-alone soup. We’ve included some helpful notes at the end of the recipe that will help you make great beans. For more great bean recipes, try this potaje de lentejas, which is a wonderful lentil stew or this navy bean soup. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

12-14 ounces bag Dried Small Red Beans

10 cups of Water, plus water for soaking

1 pound Smoked Pork (like Smoked Ham Shanks or Ham Hocks)

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Medium Onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons Tomato Paste

3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon Dried Oregano

¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin

¼ teaspoon Black Pepper, or to taste

1 tablespoon Chicken Base (optional)

 

Soak the Beans

Sort through the beans and remove any foreign objects, like small stones. Rinse the beans, add them to a large pot or bowl and cover with 3-4 cups of water; let the beans soak overnight. For a quicker soaking method, sort and rinse as above. Add the beans and 6 cups of water to a large pot. Bring the water to a boil; cook the beans for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and set aside for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans, they’re now ready to cook. I use the quick soak method and it has worked well so far.

 

While the beans soak, prepare the sofrito

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin and black pepper, stir well to combine. Cook the sofrito for another minute or two, stirring constantly. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

 

Make the red beans

Add the (pre-soaked, rinsed and drained) beans, 10 cups of water, the smoked meat, the prepared sofrito and the chicken base (if using) to a large pot, stir well to combine. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

 

Uncover the beans, remove the smoked ham and set them on a plate or cutting board to cool. Cover the beans and continue cooking. When the smoked pork is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bones, and any fatty pieces. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and return it to the pot.

 

Continue to cook the beans for another 15-20 minutes. Try a couple of beans to determine how close to done they are. If the beans are still firm, cover the pot and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Try them again. When the beans are soft, uncover the pot to allow the liquid to thicken. This process could take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how much liquid is left in the pot and how thick you want them. Keep the beans at a simmer, raise the heat a bit if necessary. Stir occasionally, as they thicken they could stick to the bottom.

 

Taste the red beans; add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Serve the Cuban style red beans with white rice or bread.

 

Serves 6-8

A close-up of Cuban Red Beans served over white rice

 

Cook’s Notes

  • The cooking time for the beans will vary depending on their freshness. When cooking beans, follow the recipe cooking times, check the beans by tasting one or two, and then add half an hour at a time until they’re done.

 

  • Smoked meat is typically salty. To control the salt in the finished dish, rinse the smoked meat under cold water before adding it to the pot.

 

  • I add a little bit of chicken base to the red beans for extra flavor, but they turn out great without it too. If you have some in the refrigerator, add it in.

 

  • The beans will thicken as they cook. If they’re not as thick as you’d like, remove about a cup of beans with a strainer and mash them with a fork. Add the mashed beans back into the pot, stir and cook a few minutes longer, this should do the trick.

 

  • Red beans make great leftovers, actually, some claim they taste better the next day. To reheat, loosen the beans with a little bit of water or chicken broth, stir, heat and enjoy.

 

Cuban Style Red Beans
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 25 mins
Quick soak method
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 35 mins
 

When you think Cuban food, beans are usually on the menu. In Spanish this dish is called frijoles colorados, and they're a staple in Cuban cuisine.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: frijoles colorados, red beans
Servings: 6
Calories: 440 kcal
Ingredients
  • 12-14 ounces bag Dried Small Red Beans
  • 10 cups of Water plus water for soaking
  • 1 pound Smoked Pork like Smoked Ham Shanks or Ham Hocks
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Chicken Base optional
Instructions
  1. Sort through the beans and remove any foreign objects, like small stones.

  2. Rinse the beans, add them to a large pot or bowl and cover with 3-4 cups of water; let the beans soak overnight. Drain and rinse the beans, they’re now ready to cook.

  3. For a quicker soaking method, sort and rinse as above. Add the beans and 6 cups of water to a large pot. Bring the water to a boil; cook the beans for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and set aside for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans, they’re now ready to cook. I use the quick soak method and it has worked well so far.

  4. While the beans soak prepare the sofrito: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin and black pepper, stir well to combine. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the skillet from the heat.

  5. Add the beans, 10 cups of water, the smoked meat, the prepared sofrito and the chicken base (if using) to a large pot, stir well to combine. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Uncover the beans, remove the smoked ham and let cool. Cover the beans and continue cooking. When the smoked pork is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bones, and any fatty pieces. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and return it to the pot.

  7. Continue to cook the beans for another 15-20 minutes. Taste the beans, if they're still firm, cover the pot and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Try them again. 

  8. When the beans are soft, uncover the pot to allow the liquid to thicken. This process could take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how much liquid is in the pot and how thick you want them. Keep the beans at a simmer, raise the heat a bit if necessary, stirring occasionally.

  9. Taste the red beans; add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Recipe Notes

The cooking time for the beans will vary depending on their freshness. When cooking beans, follow the recipe cooking times, check the beans by tasting one or two, and then add half an hour at a time until they’re done.

 

Smoked meat is typically salty. To control the salt in the finished dish, rinse the smoked meat under cold water before adding it to the pot.

 

I add a little bit of chicken base to the red beans for extra flavor, but they turn out great without it too. If you have some in the refrigerator, add it in.

 

The beans will thicken as they cook. If they're not as thick as you’d like, remove about a cup of beans with a strainer and mash them with a fork. Add the mashed beans back into the pot, stir and cook a few minutes longer, this should do the trick.

 

Red beans make great leftovers, actually, some claim they taste better the next day. To reheat, loosen the beans with a little bit of water or chicken broth, stir, heat and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts
Cuban Style Red Beans
Amount Per Serving
Calories 440 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 28%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 803mg 33%
Potassium 1071mg 31%
Total Carbohydrates 38g 13%
Dietary Fiber 9g 36%
Sugars 2g
Protein 29g 58%
Vitamin A 1.6%
Vitamin C 6.7%
Calcium 8.3%
Iron 28.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
When you think Cuban food, beans are usually on the menu. These Cuban style red beans are a popular dish made with pork. The pork used is typically an inexpensive cut. Cuban style red beans are traditionally served with white rice as a side dish, or as a stand-alone soup. #redbeans #frijolescolorados

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