Friday, October 17, 2008

Black Beans and Polenta

Warm and delicious, this is one of the first meals I made where my focus was good eating on the cheap.

Black Beans:
In order to cut down on food costs, I used dried beans. I took half the bag and placed them in a cooking pot. I covered them with water and then picked and sorted through the beans. Remember, if they float, toss them out. And look out for stones too. It happens. I give the beans a good rinse and then cover them with water. Let them soak at least eight hours or overnight. I usually drain off the water then give them some new. This helps to reduce some of the gas-causing properties! I give them about 2-3 inches of water (above the bean line).

I bring the beans to a boil, then reduce them to a simmer. To the beans I add:
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
5 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
2 bay leaves

VERY IMPORTANT: Do not add any thing acidic, such as TOMATOES or LEMON JUICE, or SALT until after the beans have cooked themselves soft. Otherwise, they'll remain hard and you'll be very disappointed!


Cover the beans and simmer them about 1-2 hours. Once they're soft to your liking, mash about 1/2 c. of the beans to thicken up the pot. Then I add:
2 Tb. lime juice

1 Tb. lemon juice
about 1/2 tsp. of salt
Keep in mind though, I don't like things very salty so feel free to add a little more. These beans will also be pretty mild, so feel free to add a little heat to it.

Polenta:
Bring 3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
Some olive oil to a boil. Once boiling add:
1 c. COARSE cut corn meal*

Reduce heat and cook about 5 minutes, or until very thick. Pour into a nonstick pan and let sit until cool. Turn the pan over onto a plate. To make polenta, cut yourself a few slices and fry up in a skillet with a little olive oil until a golden brown.

*The coarse corn meal allows it to be made into polenta.

TO SERVE:
Place pan-seared polenta onto a plate and cover it with the black beans and some sauted onion (cook a sliced, yellow onion in some olive oil over medium heat until soft and golden brown). I like to serve it with a bit of Thai chili paste for some heat. Enjoy!

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