Moros y Cristos

2 TABLESPOONS EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
½ MEDIUM YELLOW or WHITE ONION, chopped
2 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
½ MEDIUM GREEN BELL PEPPER, seeded and chopped
1 JALAPEÑO CHILE, finely chopped
1 CUP LONG-GRAIN WHITE RICE
1 BAY LEAF 2 CUPS WATER
1 TEASPOON SALT
2 CUPS COOKED BLACK BEANS (see previous recipe), drained
FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES for garnishing

In a small Dutch oven with a lid over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and chile. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, fragrant, and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to coat thoroughly with the oil. Add the bay leaf, water, salt, and beans.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook at a very slow simmer until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. You may check the beans and rice toward the end of the cooking time to make sure the water level is not too low and add a bit more water if needed, but you should leave the beans and rice as undisturbed as possible.

Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish each serving with cilantro.

Basic Black Beans

1 POUND BLACK VALENTINE BEANS, soaked
2 TABLESPOONS SAFFLOWER or GRAPESEED OIL
1 SMALL WHITE ONION, chopped
2 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
1/2 MEDIUM GREEN BELL PEPPER, seeded and chopped
1 JALAPEÑO CHILE, CHOPPED
2 TABLESPOONS CIDER VINEGAR
1/4 CUP FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES
1/4 TEASPOON SPANISH SMOKED PAPRIKA
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by at least 1 inch. Bring to a rapid boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat so that the beans are barely simmering and cook until the beans are nearly soft, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm the safflower oil. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and chile and sauté until the vegetables are very aromatic and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar, cilantro, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.

(Skip this step if making Moros y Cristos.) Scoop 1 cup of the beans from the pot and add to the skillet. Using a potato masher, mash the beans with the sofrito.

Add sofrito to the pot of simmering beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the beans are tender and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes.

Basic Borracho Beans

Ingredients

4 cups cooked pinto, Rio Sape, red Appaloosa, or Anasazi beans, in their broth
1 bottle lager beer
2 slices high-quality bacon, diced
1/2 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 to 4 Serrano chiles, seeded if desired and chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
Lime wedges for serving

In a stockpot over medium heat, warm the beans and their broth. Add the beer and simmer to cook off some of the beer, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until the fat is nearly rendered and the bacon is brown, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and chiles, and sauté over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked bacon.

Add the mixture to the beans, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.

Serve the beans with warm tortillas and lime wedges.

Adapted from Rancho Gordo (omits mushrooms)

Basic Pot Beans

1 TABLESPOON LARD or EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1/2 MEDIUM WHITE or RED ONION, chopped
2 GARLIC CLOVES, smashed
1 POUND BEANS OF YOUR CHOICE, soaked (page 21)
SALT
4 KEY LIMES, cut in half, for serving
FINELY CHOPPED WHITE or RED ONION, for serving
1/4 CUP CHOPPED FRESH CILANTRO for serving

In a stock pot, over medium heat, warm the lard.

Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and their soaking water. Add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by at least 1 inch.

Raise the heat to high, bring to a rapid boil, and cook for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat so that the beans are barely simmering and cook, partially covered, until the beans are soft, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Season the beans judiciously with salt, keeping in mind that it takes time for the beans to absorb the salt.

Ladle the beans into warmed bowls.

Diners top their servings with a squeeze of key lime, a spoonful of chopped onions, and a sprinkling of cilantro.