South-western style smokey black bean stew
Missing the connection of friends and life in America is making me nostalgic on all fronts including food, so I set about making a southwestern style black bean stew with pork hocks.
It is something so simple to put together, but do cook it in the background, because it takes more than a day (the ultimate in s-l-o-w cooking) from start to finish. The thick bean stew keeps beautifully in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and gets better with time. It is utterly delicious!
This can be cooked slowly in a heavy based pot or an electric slow cooker is even better.
2 cups dried black beans, picked clean, washed and soaked in water overnight
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 large red chilli, sliced
3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 litre water, and more as needed
1 kg piece or thereabouts piece of pork hock
1 lemon, rind grated, and juiced
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large, heavy based pot with the three tablespoons of cooking oil.
When hot, add the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and red chilli and stir till all become soft, about two minutes.
Now add the two cans of diced tomatoes and stir.
Add the water and the tomato paste, stirring well to combine.
Add the black beans after they have been drained from their overnight soaking.
At this point, add in the pork hock piece/pieces into the pot.
Bring to a boil, and then take it down to a low simmer.
Add in the cumin powder, sugar, lemon juice and rind, and add salt and pepper to taste and stir well to combine.
Now move the pot to your smallest burner and cook on very low heat for five - six hours.
Stir occasionally, check on the liquid and add a little water if needed, but keep the consistency thick. The contents of the pot should be more simmering, not so much bubbling if possible.
Keep the pot uncovered while it cooks gently.
If you have some fresh herbs at hand like parsley and basil, feel free to throw some (chopped up) in at this point.
When the black beans taste soft and flavourful after five to six hours, remove the pork bones from the soup and when slightly cooled, shred the meat from the bones and return to the pot, discarding the bones, and any pieces of fat and sinew.
Stir well and ladle up!
Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, a swirl of cream or guacamole, some chilli flakes, a crush of tortilla chips or a chiffonade of fresh herbs.
We ate our bowls of soup with a wedge of buttered sourdough toast. So good!