Spilling the Beans from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen

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WARNING: This is a bonafide blog-post hijacking.
Mami (that’s Marta, La Cocinera to you) has been sick and you don’t want a sick person doing your cooking, so I (Kikita, hija de Marta) have taken over Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen this week. I promise to keep it simple.
Out of all the things Mami cooks, there is one recipe that everyone just loves and I’ve been begging her to post it, but haven’t been able to convince her to do so.
And it’s the staple of all Cuban cuisine!
Frijoles negros. Cuban black beans.
Has anyone else wondered why Mami has held back?
I’ll tell you. It’s because she’s a “Latina.” That is to say, she takes “latas” and makes them taste not-so-canned. 😉
And Cuban-style black beans (even the ones out of the can, if you know what to add to them) are my favorite thing on the planet. I LOVE them (and so does everyone I make them for). Some of my friends have even said that I shouldn’t even bother to cook Cuban if I’m not making the black beans.
The best moment for me was when a Cuban friend (who knows how to cook) said, “Cuajaron bien, pero quedaron un poco dulce.” I got them to the right consistency. And okay, maybe they were a little on the sweet side…
But they tasted great. Just like Cuban black beans should.
So now the cat’s out of the bag, or I should say – the beans are out of the can. =D
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Frijoles Negros a la Latina
(Cuban-style Black Beans)
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 large can of black beans (1 lb. 13 oz.)
1/4 cup of red wine (white works too, but red gives them a better flavor)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. of sugar (but I will sometimes add extra, because I like ‘em sweet!)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 packet of Goya seasoning with azafran
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a medium-sized frying pan (or a pot – either will work), sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until onions are soft and clear. (You know, your basic “sofrito.”)
2. Now add the beans and then all other ingredients.
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3. Cook on high for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are the consistency you like best. In technical terms, you are “reducing” the beans – your goal is to boil-off some of the excess liquid.
4. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Taste them. Aren’t they fabulous?
I told you I’d keep it simple; after all, I’m a “Simple Latina.” (like Mami) 😉

3 thoughts on “Spilling the Beans from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen”

  1. Kiki,
    Another alternative which is what I do, is use white vinegar. Just the bottom of the cap right when you are sauteeing the sofrito.
    ADVICE: use only Goya or El Ebro beans – the rest are just not good.
    I must admit I’ve never used wine, nor sugar nor the Goya seasoning (I associate that seasoning with the puertorrican sofrito which has “recao” or cilantro)…and managed to fool even my grandmother!!
    I will try this recipe without the goya and see what comes up.

  2. Kikita, great recipe. My mother did the same thing for years and people would always compliment her on her Frijoles Negros. She would make sure to take out the trash before dinner guests would arrive so that the “cans” would not be a give-away. I also love to add sugar to my black beans, I believe that when you add sugar they are called “A Lo Menocal”, maybe your mom can verify that for me. Hope she is feeling better, but if not, make sure to make her some “Cuban chicken soup”, it works wonders and according to my mom, it cures everything!

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