Citrussy black beans with chipotle chiles

Makes a big pot of beans, enough for 6–8 people.

These are basic guidelines for a well-flavoured, medium-spicy pot of beans that take little hands-on time. This recipe doesn’t call for soaked beans since it isn’t necessary, but you could soak them to reduce the cooking time. Chipotles in adobo are smoked, dried chiles in a spicy tomato-based sauce. Adobo can be made at home and has a great flavour, so consider making a big batch of it for use at home if you can’t find it canned.

In a large heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pot, combine:

  • 500 g (1 lb) dried black beans
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 orange, topped and tailed then cut in to large chunks
  • 2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 ½ TBSP ground coriander
  • 1 can (about 7 oz or 200 g) chipotles in adobo
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A good pinch of brown sugar
  • A solid pinch of salt

Add enough water to cover the beans by the width of about three fingers and give it a good stir. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then place in a 175C (350F) oven or simmer on the stove over low heat for about 5 hours. The older the beans, the longer it will take to cook them.

Check about every hour, more frequently if simmering on the stove. Give it a good stir to ensure nothing is sticking, and taste the mixture to adjust the flavours and seasoning. Trust your gut; this is a big pot of beans, so it needs a good amount of salt and spices. Worthwhile additions might include a cinnamon stick, crushed garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, epazote, and much more.

When done, remove the orange skins, bay leaves, and any other whole spices. If you prefer a thicker texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.

Serve with salsas, chopped coriander (cilantro), sour cream or yogurt, and rice.