Cuban Black Beans

Frijoles Negros

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    with rice
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Seductions of Rice

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Published 1998

  • About

This rich-tasting bean dish is meant to be served over a mound of white long-grain rice, preferably rice cooked Cuban-style.

As with many bean dishes, we like to cook twice as many beans as we need, then freeze half. Cooked beans are always handy to have around. To thaw, just place in a pot with a little hot water over medium heat. If you’re making this dish, put some rice on to cook and then prepare the sofrito while the frozen beans are warming. In less than thirty minutes, supper can be on the table.


  • 2 cups small black beans, soaked overnight in water to cover by 2 inches and drained, or 6 cups cooked black beans
  • Approximately 7 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lime, cut in half


  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, lard, or olive oil
  • About 2 ounces Canadian bacon, cut into small cubes (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Sprig of oregano (optional)
  • teaspoons salt


If using dried beans, place the soaked beans in a large heavy pot with 7 cups water and the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cook until the beans are tender, 1½ to 2 hours, depending on your beans. Check occasionally to make sure the beans are not running dry, and add more water if necessary. Remove from the heat and add the lime halves. If using cooked beans, place in a pot and add the lime halves and enough water to moisten well.

In a heavy skillet, heat the drippings, lard, or oil over medium heat. Add the optional bacon, the garlic, and onions and cook until very soft, about 12 minutes. Stir in the cumin, the optional oregano, and the salt, then transfer this sofrito to the pot of beans.

Place the beans over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary to prevent sticking. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot over plain white rice.


You can include bell peppers if you wish. Add 2 to 3 diced bell peppers (an assortment of colors is more interesting) to the bacon and onion sofrito.

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