Shameful secret: Every time I make beans I have to call my mom. There are some basic Nica recipes I assumed came embedded in my genetic material. Imagine my surprise when for years I couldn’t make tortillas. Or rice.
The tortillas and rice are under control, but I still hiccup and reach for the phone when I make beans. Last night, however, I finally wrote mom’s procedure down and the training wheels are coming off.
This is how I make beans, and though I normally research alternative methods for making recipes to make sure my bases are covered, this is what I know and trust. Plus, I love that my mom calls for seven cloves of garlic. Seven, no explanation.
FRIJOLES NICARAGÜENSES (EN BALA)
Goya sells “Central American Beans” which are the small, red kidney beans that are standard issue in Nicaragua. If you can’t find them, use small black beans.
Served straight freshly boiled, the beans are called “frijoles en bala”—beans bullet-style. Don’t ask.
Stay tuned for refried beans and gallopinto.
1 (16-ounce) bag dried small red or black beans
7 garlic cloves, peeled
- Spread beans out in a rimmed baking sheet. Pick out any debris and questionable looking beans.
- Transfer beans to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 30 minutes.
- Transfer beans and water to a large pot; water should cover the beans about 3 inches—add more if necessary. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer beans for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, cover beans, and let rest 1 hour.
- Bring the beans back up to a boil over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons salt and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until beans are tender, 30 to 60 minutes.
- If storing the beans, cool completely, then transfer beans and some of the cooking liquid to quart-sized zipper-lock bags. When ready to use, thaw out in the refrigerator and heat on the stovetop in a saucepan or in the microwave.