Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An addiction in black

I am so tired of the cold! I know it's not fair to complain as it's only March (which means at least a few more months of sweaters and scarves,) but we were blessed with a 70 degree day last weekend, and now I'm downright pissy about the return to normal early spring temperatures. I don't know if you have a go-to comfort food for cold weather days, but mine is definitely black beans. Not the kind dumped carelessly out of a can. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way above eating those (and do quite frequently.) But no, I'm talking about the bagged, dried, soaked, cooked-all-day kind. The kind where you've foreseen the night before that it might be a rough day, so you might as well have some good food while you're down there. I mean, there is nothing like sitting down to a steaming bowl of black beans with all the fixins. It's as close to nirvana as I can hope to get on a dreary winter day. My love for them, admittedly, might be in part due to the fact that simmering them for hours on end warms the house to a (finally!) tolerable temperature.

Now, usually I like them over the typical plain white rice, but I've had these corn husks and masa in my cupboard for months, so I threw together some tamales. Rick Bayless is my steady source for Mexican cooking. Absolutely every recipe of his I've attempted has turned out fabulous, and his recipe for basic tamales is no different.

Tamales seems like the kind of thing that could be all "fancy and gourmet" or you could just throw in whatever needs used up in the refrigerator...which is totally what I did this time. I happened to have some leftover green chili and a bit of cheddar cheese, so in they went.

It may not be traditional, but a tamale alternative to white rice was actually very nice with the black beans, both in taste and texture. And for a brief moment, on a soggy and cold spring day, I was warmed in both body and soul.

I'll just provide a link to Rick Bayless's tamale recipe, as it's pretty lengthy, though you shouldn't be intimidated by this, as they're quite easy to make.

Mexican Black Beans

My black beans are different every time I make them, but usually it goes like this...
I soak a half a bag overnight in water.
Drain the water the next morning and give them a good rinse. (leave them in the colander for the time being)
Finely chop half and onion and mince a clove or two of garlic. Sometimes I'll add some jalapeno or green pepper if I have it.
Saute until softened (about 5-6 minutes)
Add the beans, 5-6 cups of water, and a good pinch of cumin.
Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce to low.
Simmer for eternity. (I've left them from anywhere 3-6 hours)
Salt to taste before serving.
Serve with rice, tamale, in a tortilla, or by themselves.

There you have it. My go-to solution for fighting the rainy day/snowy day/ interminably cold day blues.

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