Friday, September 04, 2009

Quick hit: good peasant food -- black bean dip

Crazy-busy day, too busy for a proper "In the trenches" post. Hoping to get caught-up over the long weekend.

In the meantime, here's a quick hit, "good peasant food" post. A young friend asked for the recipe for my black bean dip. Don't remember where I got this, but I feel confident that there's a lot of Lanford Monroe (rest her soul) in this one:

Dr Coyote's Black Bean Dip (or refritos)


  • Canned or dried black beans (if dried, which are cheaper and tastier, cook with either pressure cooker or by soaking overnight and then boiling in lots of water for at least 1 hour)
  • Whole garlic
  • Onions
  • Cumin (fresh is best: buy as bulk seed in Indian market in town, then toast in a dry frying pan and grind with mortar-and-pestle or in a small food-processor)
  • Whole lemons
  • Olive oil
Chop the onions (about 1 medium onion per can of beans) or "chop" in a food processor (you can reserve the water in which the beans were canned or cooked).

"Smack" the cloves of garlic (about 1-2 per can) : press under the flat side of a knife blade to get the dried skin off, then squeeze/crush the clove under the knife blade to release the juices. Dice very fine by hand, or whirl in the food processor.

Saute chopped onions and garlic together in the olive oil in a good-sized pot: you want them to brown, but not burn (6-7 minutes at least).

While the onions & garlic cook, puree the cooked beans: you want them to be more-or-less like a thick paste.

When the onions/garlic have browned, reduce the heat and add the ground cumin, stirring to thoroughly mix. Let these simmer for 3-4 minutes, to release the full flavor of the cumin.

Add the cooked and pureed beans to the onions/garlic, stirring to mix; reduce heat to low (and watch out that the bean-paste doesn't scorch onto the bottom of the pan).

Add the juice of the squeezed lemons (about one lemon per can). Err on the side of "more lemon juice than you think). Continue to cook over low heat with lid on the pan.

I like to add a favorite hot-sauce at this stage, to taste. You can also use jalapenos (chop them and cook into the onions) or red chili powder.

NB: if the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of the reserved bean-water back and stir to thin the consistency of the dip. If it is too thin, remove the lid and raise the heat *just a bit* until the dip cooks down and thickens.

That's about it! Serve with good-quality corn chips, fresh quartered tomatoes (a favorite), avocado slices, and/or warmed tortillas. A good quality Mexican beer (my own preference is for Bohemia) goes well.

Good peasant food.

Thank you, Lanford. We love you & we miss you.

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