Whether you call them, habicheulas, frijoles, or granos, beans are a popular foodstuff in Puerto Rican cooking. In my parents day, during the dark times of the Great Depression, beans and rice is what staved off hunger on the island. It was cheap and nutritious. When Boricuas first came to New York during the mass wave in the 1950s, they brought with them their penchant for beans . I was raised on beans and whatever grain was available. And the dish given below was one of our favorites. It’s Bean with Sausage. The sausage being chorizo, the cured, spicy Spanish sausage so beloved in our culture. They come in an 8-ounce package and, for this meal, you’ll need three.
Now, if you’ve acquired my book, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press) you will note that I give two methods for soaking beans. Most likely you’ll be getting dried beans from a store or supermarket. They require soaking in water before cooking if for no other reason that the dry beans you pick up could be older and drier than last year’s meatloaf. I prefer overnight soaking as oppose to the quick soaking method. It follows that the more soaking time, the more tender the product. But, if you’re pressed for time you can do quick soaking: put the beans in a pot with water to cover (about 2 inches). Bring water to a boil and cook beans for 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let soak for 1 hour. Drain the beans, rinse and cook according to recipe.
Now, for this recipe you can use whatever beans are available. It can be red kidney beans, black beans, white beans, Lima beans, pink beans, black eye peas, or green peas (what we call pitipuas, a mispronunciation of the French petitpois). This time around I used pinto beans, which we hand on hand. Yes, you’re saying, who not just use beans from a can. You could, and it would be convenient, but it just wouldn’t taste the same. Believe me, the result would be different. If nothing else, dried beans are healthier (canned beans are chock full of salt).
Also, in preparing the beans, I use sofrito as a condiment. Sofrito is an aromatic mix of herbs and spices that is a base for cooking countless dishes. In my cookbook I give a recipe for making sofrito. You can also access a recipe from my post of 11/08/10. Or you can prepare the recipe without it. Some cooks use Sazón Accent (Goya makes a good product). And, of course, the perfect side dish for this recipe is white or yellow rice
HABICUELAS CON CHORIZO
(Beans with Sausage)
1 pound package of whatever bean desired
3 cups water
½ cup olive oil
3 chorizo sausages, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
2 tablespoons sofrito
¼ cup tomato sauce
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1. Rinse the beans in a colander under cool running water. Check and discard any stones or other debris. Soak overnight in a pot with water to cover.
2. Drain and rinse. Place in heavy kettle or Dutch oven with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over moderate-high heat for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a skillet or frying pan, heat olive oil. Add chorizo and stir-fry on moderate heat for 5 minutes.
4. Add sofrito, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and oregano. Sauté another 5 minutes.
5. Add sofrito mix to the beans. Stir, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Serve with rice.
Yield: 6 servings.