If you fancy a side dish that goes well with Mexican and Cuban meals, then Mexican Black Beans is a great choice. While this is more known as a side dish, for some folks it can be a hearty meal in itself. The use of black beans in the recipe means you’re getting the proteins that your body needs. The other ingredients can be as healthy as you want them, too. For those who prefer something more decadent, it is always possible to create a Mexican Black Beans recipe that is as creamy and savory as you wish.
Making Mexican Black Beans is easy. The ingredients are pretty straightforward. However, take note that different folks have different preferences as to how they want their Mexican Black Beans to turn out. The most fundamental ingredients for this dish are as follows:
- Two 15-oz cans of black beans
- 4 cloves of garlic that are finely-chopped
- One 14.5-oz can of chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 large jalapeno that’s de-seeded and chopped
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
- ¼ cup of chopped fresh cilantro
- Fresh lime juice
- 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese
There are a few variations that anyone can come up with in the making of this hearty side dish. For instance, there are those who replace olive oil with bacon strips to give the dish a more savory flavor. Strips of bacon are cooked to release their fat. This imparts a porky, savory goodness to the dish. But if one has a heart condition, maybe it’s best to stick with the olive oil.
There are also home cooks who prefer using vegetable oil instead of olive oil. Again, everything depends on your personal preferences.
Some home cooks also put cayenne pepper and finely-chopped green chilis into the recipe. This gives it the spiciness that is characteristic of Mexican foods. This is in addition to the jalapeno peppers, of course. Now, if one doesn’t want to add extra “heat” to the dish, one can always opt not to remove the seeds of the jalapeno. You’ll need to watch for those seeds when you dig in, though.
Others add coarsely-chopped onions to give the dish a more distinct taste. Red onions are perfect for such a side dish; although white onions can give it a milder flavor.
When it comes to the canned black beans, there are two schools of thought. On one hand are those that want the beans rinsed and drained. This is to remove any artificial flavors that may be present in the commercially-available ingredient. The resulting side dish has a thicker consistency that makes it the perfect companion of enchiladas.
Now, if one doesn’t like the thick, almost pasty consistency of such recipe, he or she can always dump the whole can of black beans, including the broth. This leads to a soupier consistency. It’s great as a standalone comfort food or as a dipping sauce for your tortillas and other similar food items.
Some folks also prefer using raw black beans. This works, too. But you have to cook them first until tender.
As for the Monterey Jack cheese, this is a staple in many American and Mexican dishes. It’s always possible not to put cheese in the recipe if you like to preserve the natural flavors of the beans. But if you want a creamier and richer dish, then the cheese is an absolute must. Can you replace Monterey Jack with a different cheese? Of course! Excellent alternatives include Gouda cheese, Havarti cheese, and Edam cheese. We’re not only sure about how it will taste, though. But these cheeses are always considered as great Jack alternatives.
If you have ever cooked a stew before, then making the Mexican Black Beans should not be that difficult. The procedure is so easy that kids are known to make one for their families. Here’s how.
- Get a large, heavy saucepan and put it on your stovetop. Turn on the heat and adjust it to medium-high. Now add the oil. As mentioned, you can use olive oil or vegetable oil. Or, like other home cooks, you can put on a few pieces of bacon strips and wait for them to release their oils. This is going to be a very savory dish if you go down this route.
- Sauté the garlic cloves for about 30 seconds or until you can appreciate its aroma. If you’re using chopped onions, now is the perfect time to sauté it, too. Make sure to sauté the onions first as they take a bit longer to cook than garlic.
- Add the jalapeno chilies and ground cumin. If you want more “heat” in your dish, add half a teaspoon of cayenne powder or chili powder or both. Stir the ingredients to release their full flavors.
- Dump the two cans of black beans and the chicken broth. If you’re on a mission to cut your salt intake, then go for a low-sodium chicken broth. Cook this for about 5 minutes. Remember to stir the mixture occasionally.
- Get a potato masher and coarsely mash the beans. If you don’t have a potato masher, then you can mash the beans with the back of a fork.
- Continue cooking the black beans until you get a thick consistency. This should last about 10 minutes or so. Season with lime juice, pepper, and salt. Try to give the dish a taste. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Continue stirring until the dish is perfect for your liking.
- When done, transfer the dish to a bowl and sprinkle with the freshly-chopped cilantro. Add the cheese on top and put it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. This is to melt the Monterey Jack.
You can always choose not to put cheese, of course, but the Jack will help give the Mexican Black Beans a deeper, richer, and more velvety goodness.
The next time you’re craving for some Mexican dish, give the Mexican Black Beans a try. You can go as savory and spicy as you want or as mild as it can get. The choice is yours.