Saturday, July 11, 2015

Frijoles De La Olla (Flavorful Bean Stew)

This simple but rib-sticking stew, is made with various beans in different parts of Mexico; although different, they are seriously yummy. We often think of pinto beans as the traditional frijoles; but other beans such as black, kidney, and Peruano are also used; I have seen some cooks mix pinto and kidney beans for a colorful dish. Whichever beans you use, it is sure to become a favorite!

Onions, a bit of garlic, fresh or dried chiles, a splash of oil or a pat of butter, etc may be added to the olla (cooking pot) depending on the individual cook. Some people cook the beans with the chopped onions and garlic which cook and melt into the beans without a trace. One woman told me that she cooks the onions in oil until they are practically black, strains out the onions, and adds the oil to the beans for the best flavored beans! Though I have tried the various recipes (not the blackened onion though) and enjoyed them all,  from the simplest - which is just plain beans cooked with a chile or two, and a little salt, to beans cooked with onions and garlic sauteed in a little splash of oil.

Frijoles De La Olla is very useful to have on hand; I like to cook a great big batch of beans to use in various recipes during the week as well as freeze a few portions for a 'rainy' day! Besides being delicious on their own, Seven Layer Dip, Mexican Lasagna, Tortilla soup, and Enfrijoladas are just a few of the recipes that could be prepared utilizing these beans. If you mash up the beans, you will have something like  Frijoles Mexicana or soft beans perfect for heaping on Tostadas or rolling up in burritos. I often serve them as part of a "one-plate meal" salad.

The way these beans disappear, it is probably good to make a double or triple batch to make sure everybody gets their fair share :)! This recipe may be doubled or tripled - just make sure you use a large enough cooking pan to accommodate the larger amount of beans. Soaking is not strictly necessary but cuts down on cooking time and may aid digestibility. As always, pressure cooking the beans significantly helps to cut down on cooking time as well as fuel.

Black Bean Frijoles With Salad
8 Servings


2 cups Pinto, Black or Peruano Beans
1 - 2 Dried/fresh hot chile
1 Onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 - 2 Tbsp good Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Smoked Paprika (optional)
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste

Toppings for serving:
Salsa of your choice
Avocado cubes
Non-dairy Sour Cream
Non-dairy Cheese
Chopped onions
Romaine lettuce
Pickled Vegetables


Clean and sort the beans, rinse, cover with plenty of fresh water and let soak overnight.

Drain the beans, rinse and add enough fresh water to cover the beans by about an inch. Add the whole chiles on top.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat so the beans are simmering gently; cook until soft stirring occasionally. Add boiling water as necessary if the beans dry out. The beans may be pressure cooked also. When the beans are done, fish out the chiles and discard.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the onion and garlic.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt and turmeric stirring often until golden.

Stir in the paprika, and cook for another minute.

Tip the spice-onion mix into the beans and simmer for at least 30 minutes; they could be simmered up to 1 hour or so. Just make sure to stir occasionally and add hot water as necessary.

Serve hot or warm with your favorite toppings.

Any leftovers may be stored in the fridge or in the freezer for longer storage.


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