Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mexican Beans and Greens

I love this recipe. It's hearty, healthy, and just so yummy! This comes from Rick Bayless's "Everyday Mexican" and has become a regular staple in our home. I'm surprised that I haven't posted this one yet, because we have it more often than any other recipe I can think of. I brought it to a potluck last night and got more food compliments from men than I ever have.

In the past I've used the pork chorizo from Walmart (the only place I could regularly find it), which has a fine grind and is a little weirdly pasty, but has a good strong flavor once it's mixed into the beans. Last night I used some chorizo from Costco (which I snatched up when I saw they had it because it looked really good). It's more like the texture of italian sausage, and the flavors are a little less strong than the other brand, but it's quite lovely. I added a little smoked paprika to the pot to add another layer of flavor to make up for it being less strong. I've wanted to try it with soyrizo, but haven't found it lately.

Now, I use these amounts really as just general guidelines and I never measure anymore with this recipe. I use whatever greens I have around: bagged spinach in the winter, kale in the fall, chard and beet greens in the summer.

I usually use dried black beans that I cook myself, but have occasionally used canned beans as called for in the recipe. For the dried black beans, I love to use my pressure cooker: I just rinse them, put in about twice as much water as beans, add about a tablespoon of salt, a couple cloves of garlic, and a couple tablespoons of dried onion flakes, (occasionally some epazote or avocado leaf), pop on the lid, bring it to pressure for about 6 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit for a few hours. This is usually enough to cook them, which I figure saves a lot of gas over the slow stovetop method I used to use. If I'm in a hurry, I leave it at pressure for 20 and do a quick release, check to make sure they're done, and bring them back up to pressure if I need to cook them more. If you have a crockpot, it works to cook them on low all day, or if you're doing it on the stove you should probably soak them overnight first, then cook them for 2-3 hours on the stove. (A word about soaking: it's not necessary, but it does speed up the cooking time and usually helps the beans cook more evenly without bursting, so I'd recommend it for when you're doing bean salads - for this recipe it doesn't matter). I put the extra beans in 2-3 cup containers in the freezer so I can use them anytime like canned beans.

Mexican Beans and Greens

8 to 12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed

10 ounces cleaned young spinach (about 10 cups) OR one 12-ounce bunch Swiss chard, thick lower stems cut off, leaves sliced crosswise into ½ inch strips (about 8 cups)

Two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained

1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (1 is usually enough for us, so if you don't like things spicy, start with 1/2)


½ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

½ cup chopped green onions or thin-sliced red onion, for garnish

In a medium-large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven), cook the chorizo over medium heat, stirring regularly and breaking up clumps, until lightly browned and thoroughly done, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the chorizo is cooking, place the spinach or Swiss chard in a microwaveable bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high until completely wilted, usually about 2 minutes for spinach, 3 minutes or so for Swiss chard. Uncover the bowl and set aside. (Sometimes I cook the spinach right in the bag, and if I'm using kale, I add it as soon as I add the beans because it has to cook for a long time to get tender)

When the chorizo is ready, add the beans, chopped chipotles, and 1 ½ cups water. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of the chorizo and beans. Add the wilted greens and let the mixture return to a boil.

Ladle into bowls and serve, passing the cheese and onion for each person to add.

Sometimes I add less water or let it cook down more so that it's thicker, more of a taco filling than a soupy chili. We always eat it with warmed corn tortillas. Some fresh cilantro can be nice on top, too, if you have it.

Did I mention it freezes quite well with or without the greens?