A friend’s mom made this black beans and rice recipe for me many years ago on Thanksgiving. We had the traditional turkey, and also a slow-cooked pork roast that was divine. The beans were so good I asked her to have her mom send me the recipe.
The great thing about this is that you feel you’re eating something rich and luxurious, even though it’s a “budget” meal. This particular recipe is also vegetarian. Of course, if you want, you can add some pork or bacon in with the seasoning mixture and cook that before you combine it all with the beans.
It’s also versatile. Cook it down more and you have black beans and rice. Cook a bit less and you end up with black bean soup.
The recipe here is portioned to be a substantial main dish for dinner (or two lunches). Or, use it for two side dishes.
There are two ingredients in it that are a bit unusual for black beans and rice (at least unusual to me): balsamic vinegar and port. You just use a little of each, but it adds an extra depth of flavor which wouldn’t be there otherwise.
I don’t usually have port, so I used brandy instead.
I nearly always get the dried black beans instead of the canned ones. The canned beans tend to have extra salt and additives to “keep them fresh” (which never made sense to me; canned food should last without preservatives). Besides the dried beans are a better value and will last indefinitely.
It does take a bit of time to make this (not so much because of the cooking as because of soaking the dried beans). However, you can just let them soak overnight or use my quick soak method. Or, if you’re in a big hurry, use canned beans. Half the can should do it.
I used leftover rice that I already had. If you don’t have leftover rice, start the rice while the bean and onion mixture is simmering.
Substitutions and Variations for Black Beans and Rice Recipe for One Person
- Use brandy instead of port
- If you don’t feel like opening an entire can of tomato sauce to use a small amount, use ketchup (add a little more water)
- Add 1/4 pound pork stew to the onion mixture (when you start it)
- Try some pork fat or bacon or a ham hock
- For more kick, add some cumin or cayenne
Ingredients and Tools for Black Beans and Rice Recipe for One
The reports of arsenic in standard rice make me a bit nervous. Also, this rice is just delicious. It isn’t jasmine rice (though they have that too), but it tastes like it. And it’s not expensive either. Actually, sometimes the bags of regular rice in the store cost more!
If you’ve got the space for it, a pressure cooker will make preparing beans a whole lot faster (it’s also good for split pea soup). Pressure cookers used to be tricky to use (my grandpa made a terrible mess once when he opened it too soon – pea soup everywhere!), but they’ve gotten a lot easier. The pressure gauge on this one is marked for high or low pressure, steam release, and off. If you forget to soak your beans you can cook them with this in about 20 minutes, instead of an hour, plus the waiting time. It’s also dishwasher-safe.