Cuban Habanero-Spiced Black Beans

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These beans are an excellent accompaniment to a tropical barbecue. There are many variations of preparing turtle, or black beans, throughout the Caribbean. This recipe uses a Cuban sofrito, which is sauted onions, tomatoes pepper garlic and herbs, as a flavor base for the dishes. Remember to always add and salt or an acid after the beans are done, adding them sooner will make the beans tough.


For the Beans:

  • 1 pound black beans, rinsed and picked over

  • 1 teaspoon dried epazote (omit if not available)

  • 1 tomato, skin removed and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)

  • Salt to taste

For the Sofrito:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped

  • 2 small onions, chopped

  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 habanero chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped or substitute 4 rocottilo chiles

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 bay leaf



Place the beans in a pot and add cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and boil them uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and allow the beans to sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans and rinse them.

Return the beans to the pot, add the epazote and 2 quarts of water. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for a 1½ hours or until the beans are almost done.

In a heavy sauce pan add the olive oil and heat over a medium.. Add the green pepper, onions, garlic, and chiles and saute for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the oregano, cumin and bay leaf and saute for an additional minute. Add the sofrito to the to beans. Cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes

Add the tomato, vinegar, sherry, and season with salt to taste. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Beans for Chili

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This recipe is considered to be the basic one for beans that will be added to chili when it’s served–assuming, of course, that you are a “with beans” aficionado. There is a great debate about whether or not to soak the beans overnight. The only simple answer is that if the beans are soaked overnight, they will take about half as long to cook the next day.


  • 1 pound dried pinto or kidney beans, cleaned and soaked overnight in 3 quarts cold water

  • 3 more quarts cold water

  • Salt to taste


Remove any beans that float, then drain the beans and replace the water with 3 quarts of fresh cold water.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are tender and are easily pierced with a fork. If additional water must be added, use only hot water.

Drain the beans and add salt to taste.


Ceren Beans

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Three varieties of beans were found beneath the ash in the village kitchens of Cerén. Certainly they were boiled, and since they are bland, they were undoubtedly combined with other ingredients, including chiles and primitive tomatoes. The Cerén villagers would have used peccary fat for the lard and bacon, and of course would not have had cumin. But they probably would have used spices such as Mexican oregano.


  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans (either canned or simmered for hours until tender)

  • 1 onion, minced

  • 2 tablespoons lard, or substitute vegetable oil

  • 5 slices bacon, minced

  • 3/4 cup chorizo sausage

  • 1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

  • 6 serrano chiles, stems removed, minced

  • 1 teaspoon cumin (or substitute Mexican oregano)


Saute the beans and onion in the lard or oil for about five minutes, stirring constantly. In another skillet, saute the bacon and chorizo together. Drain.

Combine the beans and onion with the drained bacon and chorizo in a pot, add the other ingredients, and simmer for 30 minutes.


Byron’s Barbecue Beans

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Byron Bates thinks big, really big when he makes these beans. The recipe can be cut down to fit your needs. Note: To plump raisins, place them in a saucepan covered with water or fruit juice. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and cook for a couple of minutes or until raisins are soft and plump.


  • 1 #10 can pinto beans, drained and well rinsed

  • 1 pound golden raisins, plumped

  • 3 cups chopped onion

  • 2 cups diced cooking apples (Granny Smith, Rome, Spy, etc.)

  • 3/4 cup cane sugar syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups Datil Dew Outback Red Datil Pepper Sauce

  • 1 cup Datil Dew 6 Mile Gold Datil Pepper sauce

  • 1/4 cup Datil Dew Burgundy Mustard

  • 1/2 pound bacon cut into 1-inch squares


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the drained and rinsed beans, raisins, onions, apples, syrup, pepper sauces and mustard in a very large bowl. Mix all the ingredients together well. Divide the mixture equally among three 9-inch by 12-inch baking pans.

Arrange cut bacon evenly over the beans in each of the pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes or until bacon is cooked.


Fourth of July Barbecue Baked Beans

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White “Haricot Beans” include types such as Great Northern, navy, cannellini, white kidney, and small white beans, and they comprise the most versatile of the common beans. Serve these as a hot replacement for the traditional baked beans at your next picnic or barbecue.


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons New Mexican chile powder
  • 4 slices uncooked bacon, cut in ½-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup beer or water
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 cups cooked Great Northern beans


Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until they are soft.

Combine the onion mixture, chile powder, bacon, barbecue sauce, beer, sugar and mustard. Mix this sauce with the beans.

Cover and bake the beans in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour or until the beans are heated through and coated with the sauce.