Hello from New York! The city has, for the most part, shut down for the day. The subways stopped running last night at 7 PM and we’ve been hunkered down ever since. There hasn’t been much of an update as far as the weather goes since yesterday. It’s mostly just been cold and cloudy with some wind and rain here and there, although we’re supposed to get the real brunt of the storm later today. It’s weird to have the windows open and not hear people walking to the train or driving around or doing much of anything. The quiet is not something we’re used too – it’s definitely eerie. We were able to go to our friend Tom and Valerie’s apartment for a Halloween party on Saturday before the weather turned, and we had a fantastic time. They really went all out decorating and making spooky snacks; they even dyed their ice cubes black! I loved seeing everyone’s creative costumes, and I especially loved putting on my Han Solo costume again. Do you blame me? I’d have to say that their dog Mia had the best costume of the night, though.
The upside to being stuck inside all day, however, is that I get to do plenty of cooking. We had our friend Joel over for dinner last night, and these black beans and rice were a part of our meal. I couldn’t resist adding bacon to my version of this classic dish, but you can make it vegan easily by substituting a bit of oil for the butter and just removing the bacon element entirely. It’s inexpensive, but hearty and full of flavor, from the ancho chile powder to the generous amount of garlic (because who doesn’t love garlic?). These were inspired by Cafe de la Esquina in Brooklyn, and I’m excited to be able to bring a little something fun to the people in the New York area during this scary storm! In partnership with CityEats by Food Network, I’m able to offer one lucky person a $100 gift certificate to Cafe de la Esquina. CityEats is a great new resource for researching restaurants – you can read about the highlights of the restaurant, the best dishes, the atmosphere, and see photos of the actual location. If you live in the New York area, check out Cafe de la Esquina’s menu and comment here to tell me what on that menu would be a part of your dream dinner! I will pick a winner on November 12th and hopefully bring a little something fun to this dreary week.
Add in the soaked beans, stock, and spices, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, over medium, and cover. Stir occasionally every so often and allow to cook for another 45-60 minutes, until the beans are tender.
- 1 lb. black beans, soaked overnight (or 2 cans black beans, rinsed)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 slices bacon, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 large jalapeño pepper, finely minced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4½-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- fresh cilantro, for garnish
- 3-4 cups cooked rice
- Firstly, if you are using dried beans, soak 1 pound of black beans in 8 cups of water overnight, then rinse and set aside.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pan, add your 1 tablespoon of butter and melt over medium-high heat, then add in the sliced bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spatula and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan, then add in the minced shallot and jalapeño and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add in the chicken stock, salt, cumin, ancho chile powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, stir to combine, and add in the soaked beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover, stirring every so often, for 1 hour, until the beans are tender.
- Once the beans are tender, mash about a quarter of them with the back of a wooden spoon or puree a quarter of them with your immersion blender to thicken the mixture a bit. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, then serve over cooked white rice and serve.