Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Abuela’s black beans

Everybody in my family has gone through it….trying to replicate our mom’s or grandmother’s recipes with no avail. I remember when my sister Monique first got married, she didn’t know how to make beans so she made rice with corn. We made fun of her for years about that. It took some practice but she eventually got the hang of it.

My grandmother’s black beans, however, can only be replicated by my mom – and even hers aren’t as good as my grandmother’s (sorry mom.) Not that they’re not good, they’re just slightly different.

When Dennis and I first started dating my grandmother invited us over for dinner where she made black beans and rice. Dennis immediately fell in love with them, so whenever she needed work done around the house she’d lure him over with her black beans. However, we’ve since moved away from each other – she’s in Phoenix and we’re Northern VA – so if we want them we have to make them ourselves. So for the first time in my 31 years, I attempted Abuela’s black beans. (she is 90 years old, by the way, and still kickin’)



Ok, they weren’t bad….they just weren’t hers.

In a saucepan I sautéed:

  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1T oregano
  • 2 bacon strips
  • salt, pepper to taste

I soaked the beans overnight. The in the morning I put the sautéed veggies, beans, 8 cups of water by suggestion (WAY too much) and 2 more strips of bacon for flavor  (not enough.)

I cooked them on low while I was at work-about 9 hours.


The verdict? Dennis ate about three bites and very politely said, “They’re not…bad….” I ate them though. After all, it was a little piece of home.

It’s hard failing at a recipe that is so close to my heart. Oh well, with time…until then I’ve just have to fly to Phoenix to get them.


  1. Oh i know this feeling all too well. Mum makes a killer chow mein - but try as I might - I just cant seem to replicate it!

  2. I know what you mean about trying to recreate the taste of something from the past, especially a family member...I think partly the flavor has to do with them. I can never completely recreate something Tony's mom makes. I love cooking my beans in broth. It adds another dimension of flavor. Yours looks delicious!