Cuban Black Beans


1 1/2 green peppers, stemmed and seeded

10 garlic cloves

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over to remove any stones

1 smoked ham hock

2 bay leaves

5 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

4 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 Spanish onion, diced

1 jalapeño, stemmed and finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon turbinado or other brown sugar


Cut 1 green pepper into 1-inch squares. Smash and peel 4 of the garlic cloves. Put the green pepper and garlic into a large pot with the beans, ham hock, bay leaves and 1 tablespoon salt. Add 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the beans are tender, an hour or more.

Meanwhile, make a sofrito. Cut the remaining ½ green pepper into ¼-inch dice. Peel and finely chop the remaining garlic. Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño (leave out the seeds if you don’t want it too spicy), oregano, cumin, black pepper and 2 teaspoons salt and stir for another minute. Pour in the vinegar and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. This is your sofrito.

When the beans are cooked, discard the bay leaf. Remove and set aside the ham hock and let it cool. Transfer 1 cup of beans to small bowl, mash them into a paste with the back of a fork and return to the pot. Add the sofrito, then the sugar. Pull the meat from the ham hock, leaving behind any white sinew or gristle. Chop the ham into ½-inch pieces and return it to the bean pot.

Stir the beans well and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so, skimming any foam from the top. Taste for salt and serve with white rice.


Trans Fat: 0 grams
Fat: 15 grams
Calories: 350
Saturated Fat: 4 grams
Unsaturated Fat: 10 grams
Sodium: 451 milligrams
Sugar: 3 grams
Fiber: 8 grams
Carbohydrate: 33 grams
Protein: 22 grams