Tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or burritos – no matter what the food of choice is, most people have one of these items at least once a month. Heck, I know there are some people that religiously participate in Taco Tuesday every week. No matter what item is on the menu, one thing remains the same for all four of these dishes, they all taste delicious with a side of beans or even with beans inside of them.
While I love a good cut of beef, or some perfectly done chicken, to me, the star of Mexican cuisine is always the beans. However, I think everyone can agree that canned beans, while convenient, do not always create a perfect side on taco night. It can be easy to accept canned beans as a substitute for quality because of how quickly they can be heated up, but I have a better solution to offer – Use a slow cooker to your advantage and cook up a whole batch of jalapeno black beans, making dried beans your main ingredient.
Slow cooker recipes are some of my favorites because ingredients can be thrown into the pot in the morning, and they are ready to eat by the time I come home from work. I think the best part of this recipe is the quantity of food it makes up though. When all is said and done, this recipe creates approximately four cans-worth of beans. Not only do they taste better than plain beans, they can also be frozen! This means that in just one day’s worth of cooking, I can have enough beans for four different meals.
1/3 cup Diced Onion
5 heaping tbsp Diced Fresh Jalapeno Peppers (About 2-3 peppers depending on size)
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 14 oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes
16 oz Dried Black Beans
4 cups Chicken Broth
4 ½ heaping tsp Hot Mexican Chili Powder (Regular can be substituted)
2 tsp Cumin
Kitchen Tip 1: It is very common for pinto beans to be used in Mexican Cuisine, but I have found that black beans are equally delicious, and an added bonus of black beans is that they are a naturally softer bean. This means that they don’t have to be soaked overnight. This is a huge plus for me, because I often forget that many dried bean recipes require soaking. I have had to change dinner plans many times in the past because of a spurt of forgetfulness when it comes to overnight soaking of beans. Black beans get a big win in my book since they don’t need to go through this process.
1. Since black beans do not need to be soaked ahead of time, the first step to this recipe is to rinse and strain the beans. During the straining process be sure to stir the beans around keeping an eye out for loose pebbles or rocks. Occasionally a pebble will be missed during the sorting and packaging of beans, so it is always recommended to watch for them while rinsing beans. Fortunately, this is very rare, so do not be surprised if your package of beans is completely rock free.
2. After the beans have been cleaned, prep all the veggies that need to be diced up. Make sure the jalapenos are cut up as fine as possible to prevent ultra-spicy bites within the dish. Jalapenos are great flavor boosters, but nobody likes to eat massive chunks of them.
3. Once all of the veggies have been chopped, throw the beans, fresh veggies, tomatoes, and tomato paste into the pot. There is no need to strain the tomatoes.
4. When all of the veggies are in the pot, add the broth and spice. Stir everything together and set the slow cooker on high.
5. After the slow cooker has been set on high, leave it alone for 5 hours. DO NOT OPEN IT DURING THE COOKING TIME!. Even though black beans are a softer bean, they still take time and moisture to completely cook through. Lifting the lid and letting out the heat damages the cooking time.
6. Once 5 hours have passed, check the beans to make sure they are done. They should be, but if you think they are not soft enough feel free to leave them for another thirty minutes to an hour. I have never had issues with them cooking in 5 hours, but some people like their beans mushier than others. When you are satisfied with their texture, turn the slow cooker to warm until dinner is ready to be served.
Kitchen Tip 2: Use a slotted spoon to scoop the beans out. While the liquid in the pot does a great job of flavoring the beans, too much liquid can make a soggy taco shell. Since nobody likes a soggy taco, it is best to let a slotted spoon strain the beans before adding them to any dish.
These beans are on the spicier side, so I like to serve them with cheese and sour cream for some contrast. Jalapeno Black Beans make such a great side to any dinner of Mexican cuisine. I love them so much that I have often substituted them for the meat of the night, treating myself to a veggie taco or burrito instead of chicken or beef.
Like this recipe? Check out my Guacamole to serve alongside it!