This is my favorite and one of the most classic recipes of Mexican Gastronomy, Frijoles de la Olla is simple to make, versatile and healthy. Like many traditional dishes, the recipe for Frijoles de la Olla varies greatly from cook to cook. Don't be afraid to experiment a little and make them to suit your personal taste.
(On this recipe, I am also suggesting some ingredients to use as toppings as you can serve Frijoles de la olla as a soup and not only as a side dish with your favorite Mexican meal)
2 cups dried beans (bayo beans, pinto beans, mayocoba beans or black beans)
½ white onion
2 cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of a spoon
2-3 leaves of fresh epazote (if you can't find epazote, substitute dried bay leaf)
1 whole Serrano or Jalapeño pepper (optional) - cut the top off to prevent the pepper from bursting
Toppings (optional if served as a soup)
Cheese, Crema, Salsa, Serrano Pepper, Chopped Onion, Fresh Cilantro, Olive oil, Dried oregano.
Sort your beans to make sure there are no rocks or beans that have gone bad.
Soak the beans in water overnight (in the fridge).
Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly.
Put the beans, onion and garlic into a large, lidded ceramic pot.
Add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches, bring to a strong boil.
Remove any beans that float to the top of the water or any foam that forms at the surface.
Once the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.
The water level should remain at least an inch above the beans throughout the whole cooking process. If the water level falls lower, add boiled water as necessary.
When the beans begin to get tender (after at least an hour of cooking), add the epazote and pepper (if using).
Continue to cook until the beans are soft, 1.5 - 3 hours.
Once the beans are soft, season with salt to taste and continue to cook for 10 minutes more.
At this point, if there are still pieces of onion and garlic, remove them from the pot.
Remove the epazote and pepper from the pot.
Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of the spoon and stir in to thicken the broth, the more you smash, the thicker the broth becomes.
Serve hot with your choice of toppings and warm tortillas.
Chef Martin Lopez