Turning a couple of cans of plain black beans into quick Cuban style black beans is easy. Black beans (frijoles negros, in Spanish) are a staple in Cuban cuisine. But forget hours of soaking and cooking the beans, with this short-cut recipe we start with cooked black beans and add in Cuban-style seasoning.
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The seasoning blend for the black beans is easy to make and the ingredients are just as easy to find. Garlic, onion, oregano and cumin are all part of a traditional Cuban sofrito. Here we use the powdered form, but still get the same flavor. Sofrito is the base of so many classic dishes like arroz con pollo and fricase de pollo.
White rice and black beans are a common side dish at my house. I’d say they’re on the menu at least once a week. I don’t make black beans from scratch. I have before, and they come out good, but they take hours to make.
There are also pitfalls with making black beans. For one, if the beans aren’t fresh, they will take a long time to become tender. Sometimes they’ll stay hard. There’s no easy way to tell if the beans are fresh or old either, it’s the luck of the draw.
To save myself time and aggravation I use canned black beans. We live in South Florida so finding Cuban-style everything is easy. All markets carry Latin foods, not only are canned Cuban style black beans easy to find, but there are several brands to choose like, Goya, Kirby, and El Ebro just to name a few. Some come seasoned already, but I enhance them anyway.
You may not be able to find Cuban style black beans in your area, but you can find regular black beans. Bush’s and Progresso are among the brands that make a black beans product. The ingredients will typically consist of water, black beans and salt. Now, let’s turn them into Cuban style black beans.
- Canned black beans – we are adding our own seasoning so plain black beans work well.
- Oil – extra virgin olive oil is typically used. When making dried black beans the oil is added at the end, like a finishing oil. We are starting with cooked black beans and the olive oil gives them that homemade taste.
- Vinegar – stick with red wine vinegar, it works so well with the olive oil and spices.
- Seasoning – the seasoning are typical spices used in Cuban food. Garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, salt, black pepper and cumin add Latin flair to plain black beans.
Add 2 cans of black beans (with the liquid) to a saucepan. Next, add the olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir well to combine. Cover the saucepan and bring the black beans to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to come together, stir occasionally.
- The consistency you will get from canned beans is going to vary greatly. They could be thin and watery or too thick. Cuban style black beans range from soupy, to thick like a stew. It all depends on who makes them. I think they’re best with a thicker consistency, but that’s a matter of taste.
- Cook the canned black beans as instructed. If they are still too watery, uncover the saucepan and let them simmer for a few minutes to allow some of the liquid to cook away. Stir the beans often, especially as they start to thicken.
- If the beans are too thick add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, stirring in between each addition until they reach the desired consistency and warm through.
Serve the Cuban style black beans over white rice and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. Bistec de palomilla or a piece of Cuban roast pork (lechon asado go great with rice and black beans. And, if you want your rice to be as good as the beans, follow the tips on how to make white rice.
Quick Cuban Style Black Beans
- 2 (15 ounce) cans Black Beans, do not drain
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ¼ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon Cumin
- Chopped Parsley for garnish – optional
- Add the black beans with the liquid (do not drain) to a saucepan.
- Add the olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper and cumin to the saucepan. Stir well until combined.
- Cover the saucepan and bring the black beans to a simmer over medium heat.
- When they start to simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
- Keep the beans at a simmer, lower the heat if necessary. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan, especially as they thicken.
- Serve the beans with white rice and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.