How to make a smoky black bean stew, plus tips for working with dried chiles

Smoky black bean stew
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

One taste of this rich stew and you might never guess it’s made from just a handful of ingredients. But patience can yield a lot of flavor, and this smoky black bean stew is no exception. Simmer dried black beans with dried morita or chipotle chiles, onion, garlic, a bay leaf and a touch of seasoning, and within a couple of hours you have the perfect meal, garnished as you like. Better yet? This is one dish that only gets better with time, as the flavors have time to marry.

KITCHEN PRO TIP: Many recipes call for rehydrating dried chiles before using them. The process is simple: submerge the chiles in hot water until softened, then use as desired. Check out the video below for this and other tips with working with dried chiles.

Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter shows how to quickly and easily rehydrate dried chiles.



Total time: 2 hours | Serves 6 to 8

1 pound dried black beans

6 cups water

2 dried morita chiles or 1 dried chipotle chile

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crema Mexicana, or sour cream, for garnish

Chopped green onions, for garnish

Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Grated cotija cheese, for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, bring the black beans, water, chiles, onions, garlic and bay leaf to a simmer. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven.

2. Cook for 1 hour, then add 1 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of black pepper and stir to combine. Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 30 to 45 more minutes.

3. Use an immersion blender to coarsely purée the beans just enough to release some of the starch. Alternatively, purée 1 cup of beans in a stand blender and return them to the pot. Heat just until the beans have thickened. (The dish can be prepared to this point several days in advance and refrigerated, tightly sealed.)

4. When ready to serve, bring the beans back to a simmer. Add a little more water if they are too thick. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the beans into warmed serving bowls and garnish with a spoonful of crema Mexicana, a sprinkling of green onions and cilantro, and grated cotija cheese, with more passed at the table. Serve immediately.


Each of 8 servings: Calories 189; Protein 12 grams; Carbohydrates 34 grams; Fiber 12 grams; Fat 1 gram; Saturated fat 0; Cholesterol 0; Sugar 1 gram; Sodium 293 mg

Love cooking as much as I do? Follow me @noellecarter


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