In my book, there are two things that you can’t skimp out on in cooking:

1. Shredding your own cheese: I’m sorry but the preshredded stuff you buy at the store is NOT the same… it’s grainy and doesn’t melt the way it should. FACT. Do yourself a favor, buy the block of cheese and grate it yourself. It takes a few extra minutes but the difference it makes is HUGE!

2. Homemade Salad Dressing: Store bought is NEVER as good. I think it’s a common misconception that salad dressings are complicated & take a lot of time/ingredients to make. Most of mine only actually require a few ingredients and are a CINCH to throw together. I wish people realized how easy it is to whip up a quick dressing! It makes all the difference.

3. Making beans from scratch using dried beans: Using canned beans when in a pinch is okay… however, once you’ve enjoyed a beautiful bowl of beans from scratch… there is just NO comparison! It’s blows the canned stuff out of the water!

So let’s talk beans. Black Beans to be precise. When it comes to black beans… no one does it better than the Cubans (Also a FACT)!

Growing up in South Florida (aka Northern Cuba) I’ve grown to love Cuban Cuisine. I know I’ve told you about my friend Nancita who I go to for all things Cuban… well this was another recipe that I went to her for. I gathered all my tidbits of info on how to make the best Cuban black beans and off I went!

Ya’ll these are IN.SANE. I made then this week for a group of 22 and got BIG TIME compliments on them (“These are THE best black beans I’ve ever had in my life” etc…).

NOTE: I used a pressure cooker to cut the cooking time down (I’m OBSESSED! i think I’ll do a video tutorial soon to show ya’ll that pressure cooking isn’t all that scary.).  These could also be cooked according to the instructions on the bag of beans or using the Crockpot method. Just wait until the last hour of cooking to add all the salt and seasonings and you should be good to go!

I can’t wait to tackle other types of beans from scratch! Be on the lookout!

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Cuban Black Beans from Scratch

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 45-50 minutes

Cuban Black beans from scratch in 45 minutes using the Pressure Cooker!

Ingredients:

1 lb bag dried black beans
1 green pepper, cored and diced
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 packet of Goya Sazon seasoning
2 dried bay leaves
1 can Rotel, undrained (may substitute diced tomatoes)
1 TBS vinegar

Directions:

Place the beans in a strainer and pick over them removing broken pieces and pebbles (I've rarely found them but you always gotta check!). Rinse beans well under running water and place into a large pressure cooker. Add half of the diced green pepper and fill with water (about 1 1/2- 2 inches above the top of the black beans).

NOTE: DO NOT ADD ANY SALT AT THIS TIME. IT PREVENTS THE BEANS FROM ABSORBING THE WATER.

Place lid on pressure cooker, lock, and bring up to pressure over high heat (Note: follow manufacturers instructions). The saftey lock will pop up and it'll start to hiss. Once the hissing begins, reduce heat slightly (to medium-medium high) and cook for 20-22 minutes.

While this is going, make your Sofrito. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and the remaining peppers and saute until softened (4-6 minutes). Add the garlic, oregano, salt, cumin, Sazzon, and bay leaves. Stir for 30-45 seconds then remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

After 20-22 minutes, remove beans from burner and use the pressure release. Open once pressure is completely released, open pot and add the sofrito and rotel. If the bean look like they need a little more liquid add it at this time.

Place lid back on, lock, and bring back up to pressure. Once it's up to pressure, reduce the heat to medium-high and set your timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove beans from burner and use the pressure release. Open once pressure is completely released, open beans and taste to see if any additional seasoning is needed. Stir in red wine vinegar and serve over steamed rice.