Two staples of Belizean diet are rice and beans and beans and rice. The difference between the two is the essay question on the Belize nationality test.
Anyways, beans are a big part of our diet here. They are one of the first things I learned to cook here, and we go through about a pound of beans a week. They’re cheap, easy, and taste really good. You should make some.
ingredients: dried beans, onion, garlic powder, vegetable oil, salt
1. sort the beans
this is very important. The one time I made a bad pot of beans was when I was in a hurry and thought the beans looked fine without sorting. Take out anything that looks funny: mold, discolorations, broken, anything. It really does affect the taste of the beans.
(some bad beans)
2. Rinse the beans a few times under running water.
I don’t presoak the beans. I tried that once and ended up with a pot of bubbly fermented beans. But it might work if you live in a colder climate.
3. You can cook in a pot on the stove (faster) or a crock pot (which I like to use but is slower). The cooking time will vary depending on the type of bean. Smaller beans tend to need longer cook times- once I bought some small red beans that needed 9 hours in the crock pot on high. I know better now and like larger red beans, which take about 4 hours in the crock pot and 3 on the stove. They make a better sauce too.
4. Cover the beans with drinking water. For about a pound of beans in a crock pot, add water until it is about ½ way up the pot. On the stovetop, you are going to have to keep adding water in as they cook so just put as much as possible in to begin with.
5. Add about a handful of chopped onions, a couple of tablespoons of garlic powder, and about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
This is also where you could get creative. Coconut oil or coconut powder added here gives a distinctive flavor. My father in law prefers that the onions and garlic be sautéed before they are added to the beans (I don’t notice a difference in taste but he is quite adamant about it :)
6. Monitor the water level as the beans cook. I usually never add water to the crock pot, but you have to be careful not to let the beans dry out and burn on the stove.
7. When the beans are very soft (almost mushy) they are done. You should be able to smoosh a bean easily with a fork. This is when you add salt- and you need a lot of salt. Start out with a teaspoon and keep adding until they are no longer bland. Stir and let cook a little longer to blend the salt. I find if you add salt earlier it adds to the cooking time
Done! Here are some ways we like beans: with scrambled eggs, on quesadillas, with toasted cheese sandwiches, on burritos, in chili, in soup, in rice and beans (cook rice with the already cooked beans, using the bean sauce instead of water), refried, or just as a side dish to any meal.