hef’s black beans

8 to 10    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes + overnight soaking    |   
Cook Time:
2 hours

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My friend Heather fixed me a fantastic (and healthy) lunch of subtly spiced black beans rolled in tortillas and served with taco condiments at her house in Southampton. The bean recipe comes from her family in Salinas and when I got back to California, I cooked up a pot. They’re great as a main dish, side dish, or nutritious snack stored in the freezer (Heather—or Hef as she’s called—often cooks up a double batch and freezes them in portion sizes to reheat in the microwave). Roll the beans in warmed flour or corn tortillas and garnish with salsa, grated cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, and cilantro. Or put them in a quesadilla with guacamole. Or offer them alongside grilled steaks and sliced tomatoes. These babies just keep on giving!


1-pound bag black beans
2 slices thick-cut bacon
vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
salt and freshly ground pepper


Rinse the black beans then soak overnight in a large bowl with water to cover by 2 inches, or follow the quick-soak directions on the bag. Drain and rinse again.

Cut the bacon in half lengthwise, then crosswise into dice. Scatter in the bottom of a 5-quart Dutch oven or other large pot and place over medium-high heat. Saute until brown, but not crisp, then add 1 tablespoon oil (or if desired, drain off bacon fat and add 2 tablespoons oil to the pot). Add onion and celery and saute until softened, then stir in the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grindings of pepper, and stir for about 30 seconds to toast spices. Add beans and chicken broth (liquid should cover beans plus an inch or so; if not add water to the pot). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours or until they’re tender to the bite, stirring beans occasionally and adding water if they start to scorch.

If beans are too soupy when done, take off lid and boil about 10 minutes to thicken (but do not boil dry—the beans will soak up the excess pot liquor as they stand.) Season to taste with salt. Serve warm or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.