Colombian-Style Beans

Cuisine: Colombian
Servings: 6-8 servings

The one meal that I remember eating the most when I was a kid was beans, Colombian-style beans. When we were living with my great aunt, she used to make them every night and would serve them with a side of white rice, beef or chicken and a Colombian arepa. And it's funny because we never got tired of eating them, in fact, people would come over for dinner uninvited because her beans were amazing. As kids, my cousins and I would make fun and sarcastically ask, "Hmmm... I wonder what we're going to have for dinner tonight?" But like I said, we loved them and ate every single bit of them.

Colombia we eat beans all the time and every family has their own recipe. The most popular way to make them in Antioquia, which is where I'm from, is by adding ham hocks or pork hocks, along with a green plantain. My grandmother loved adding collard greens or "cidra" which is a type squash, also called "chayote," but that's not really the way I like them. I want my beans meaty and full of pork flavor, so I almost always use ham hocks. If you're not too fond of adding a pig's foot in your beans, or can't find any, you can also make them with pork belly, which also gives them an amazing flavor. Bacon also adds great flavor, except most bacon sold in the U.S. is smoked, so your beans, while really tasty, won't really have that Colombian flavor.

The type of beans we always use are cranberry beans, which are very easy to find here in the U.S. These beans are gorgeous, they have beautiful red spots on the outside that are usually lost during the cooking process and are packed with flavor. Also, the ones sold in Colombia are a lot bigger than the ones we find here, but they taste the same. If for some reason you can't find them at your grocery store, you can use pinto beans or even red beans.

Serve this dish with a side of white rice and a nice piece of avocado. They're amazing!

¡Buen Provecho!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 pound ham hacks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pound cranberry beans
  • 10 cups water or more, divided
  • 1 green plantain chopped
  • 1/2 large carrot
  • 2 cubes Colombian aliños (seasoning)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Directions

  1. Wash and soak beans the night before in about 5 cups of water.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium high heat in a big pot or pressure cooker, then add ham hocks and brown for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add bay leaf and garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Add beans with 8-10 cups of water, the plantain, the carrot and the aliños. Then add the rest of the water making sure the beans are covered. Add more water if needed.
  4. If you're using a pressure cooker, add 1 tablespoon of oil to prevent the water from foaming. If you're using a regular pot, you don't need to add more oil.
  5. Cover pressure cooker and bring to pressure, then lower heat to medium low and cook for 25 minutes. Cook for 1½ - 2 hours on medium-low if using a regular pot.
  6. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before releasing the steam.
  7. Once all the pressure is released, uncover and remove ham hocks and let cool. Remove bay leaf and discard.
  8. Remove carrot and put it in a blender with about one cup of beans and liquid from the pot and blend until smooth. Then add it back to the beans. This will help thicken the liquid and it will add the carrot flavor.
  9. Once the ham hocks have cooled, remove the meat and add it back to the beans. Discard the bones.
  10. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a side of white rice and avocado.

Chef Notes

Find my recipe for aliños on Sweet y Salado.

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