Thursday, February 6, 2014

Beans from the Pot / Frijoles de la Olla

Every time I cook beans at home (almost weekly), we always enjoy a bowl of them served with warm tortillas and topped with chopped onion, cilantro, serrano pepper, crumbled fresh cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Frijoles de la Olla (beans from the pot or bean stew) are originally those that are cooked in large clay pots, which are believed to give the beans a special flavor when cooked over an open fire. Nowadays people use pressure cookers and crock pots to make them. The romantic image of beans boiling in a clay pot over an open fire is hardly attainable in today’s modern and hectic world that’s filled with so many kitchen conveniences. Clay pots are becoming a thing of the past, and only here or there will you find a cook with a large clay pot that they hold as a dear cooking treasure.

Beans have been part of our Mexican culture since Prehispanic times, along with corn and peppers. But did you know that beans and corn form a complementary protein together? Many cultures around the world mix grains like lentils, beans and peas with wheat, corn, rice and oats to provide their bodies with the full range of essential amino acids that one needs to keep your body functioning property. In ancient times people didn’t consume much meat protein on a daily basis, they reserved that type of protein for celebrations or offerings in their rituals.
So basically, I’m just giving you a good and healthy excuse to enjoy a warm cup of beans!
  • 1 Lb. Dried Black Beans (About 2 cups heap)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/4 of a large white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 Sping of Epazote
  • 1 serrano pepper*
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of lard or olive oil **
  • * The serrano peppers are optional
  • * *Some cooks add one or two tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil. But that is optional as well. We drizzle olive oil at the time we serve the beans into each individual bowl.
  • Black beans are common fare in the Mexican Gulf Coast, you can use pinto beans or any bean of your choice.
1. Clean the beans by passing them thru your hands and picking out any small rocks and dried up or broken beans. These have to be removed before cooking. Depending on the brand, some beans are already really clean and this step is not necessary.
2. Rinse the beans thoroughly. Have the onion and garlic ready.
3. Place the beans into a large stockpot with the onion and garlic. Add the water and lard, if using. Remove any beans that float to the surface, they are probably too old and damaged. Remember that beans expand while cooking, that is why you need a large pot. Do not add the salt yet! The skins of beans will become tough and it will prevent them from becoming tender and will burst. Add the salt until they are almost cooked.
4. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. When they start boiling, reduce the heat to simmer gently. The cooking time will depend on the freshness and size of the beans from, 1 1/2 hour up to 3 hours.  Add hot water if needed during the cooking process to keep the level over 2 inches. Stir the beans occasionally.
5. When the beans look tender, add the Epazote Sprig and the Serrano Peppers if using. Season with salt. To prevent the pepper from bursting, make a small slit in the center of the pepper using a sharp knife before adding to the pot.
6. Keep cooking until the beans are soft. Some cooks like to mash a small amount of the cooked beans and then return them to the pot in order  to have a thicker broth. Enjoy a warm cup of beans or let them cool and store in your fridge where they can last up to 4 days. You can also store them in small containers or freezer bags for later use.

Other recipes with beans are Refried Beans and Frijoles Charros.

What type of beans do you use more often?
¡Buen provecho!


  1. Hola Mely!

    buena receta! Yo hago mis frijolitos en una olla de barro de las "frijoleras" o "bean pot". ya sabes, de las alargadas tradicionales. yo dejo remojando mis frijoles unas 12 horas. Mi madre siempre me dijo que nunca le cambiara el agua, y por tanto los cocino en la misma agua que los remoje.

    uso frijoles negros, y la verdad quedan muy sabrosos. yo no consigo epazote muy facil, asi que lo omito. el aceite, solamente hasta que suelta el primer hervor, y una vez que remueves la espuma de los frijoles. la sal, igual que tu, hasta el final cuando sabes que los frijolitos estan listos.

    mi madre me visito en inglaterra hace un mes por primera vez. probo mis frijoles una vez refritos, y para mi sorpresa (bueno, no tanta) comento que sabian a esos frijoles "chinitos" de los jarochos. ese fue un gran alabo para la receta. a mis hijas les fascinan.

    sabias que te duran mas de los 4 dias? a los 4 o 6 dias los vuelves a hervir, y te duran otros 4 dias. y si de plano no quieres volverlos a hervir, pues una sopita de frijol y listo.

    muchos besos para ti, y sigo tragando chicharron prensado...jaja


    1. Hola Jacinto,

      Gracis por todos comentar la forma en que haces los frijoles. Eso es lo que enriquece la cocina, que cada quien lo hace de diferente manera aportando su propio sazón. Puedes conseguir el epazote seco aunque el sabor no es lo mismo.

      Que bueno que me dices que te duran más de 4 dias en el refri los frijoles. Yo despues de tres dias los pongo a congelar.



    2. Mely, como dice Jacinto yo tampoco tiro el agua en que se remojaron los frijoles, yo, como dice Diana Kennedy, "si en un libro le dicen que tire el agua de remojo de los frijoles, tire el libro a la basura" jajajaja. En esto hay muchas opiniones en contrario. Los dejo remojar toda una noche con el ajo y cebolla dentro del agua y los pongo a cocer ya sea en olla de presión o en jarro.


  2. wow i want your beans :-) we often have rice and beans for dinner

    1. Hello Rebecca, that is a soul satisfying meal. We called it "Moors and Christians".

  3. We dont get black beans over here can I use kidney beans?

    1. Yes, Nammi you can use what is available in your area.

  4. Hola Mely, lo mejor son así, recién saliditos y con su pico de gallo mmmm, por cierto, no he puesto los míos jajaja


  5. Mely, que ricos frijoles! Yo no acostumbro mucho los negros pero si me gustan, con tu receta se me antojaron mas. Me encantan estas comidas caceras y muy típicas de nuestra tierra. A veces las comidas mas sencillas son las mas satisfactoria, como esta, mmm, rica!

  6. Hi Mely, I am so happy I just found your blog! I make rice and beans for dinner quite often...I love a pot of homemade beans! I make mine kind of like this recipe...but I have never heard of Epazote! I am going to see if I can find it! Thanks for the recipes!

    1. You are very welcome. Stop by our facebook page, updates every day.


    2. I have been looking and looking for a Page like yours >>>> AWESOME Page... Love it!! Thank you for your time in putting it together and sharing... Keep it going..I love Mexican foods lots of flavors and textures and spices..

  7. Hola Mely,
    Pregunta. Como se puede modificar la receta para hacerla en la Crock Pot? Es que la verdad no tengo tiempo para estar vigilando los frijoles por varias horas. Tengo una nueva bebe y no me deja hacer nada. Jaja.

    1. Hola Carla,

      Ponlos a cocer en la Olla por 6 horas en la temperatura media. Yo los dejo a cocer por las noches cuando uso la olla de lento cocimiento.


  8. Hola mely, felicidades por tu blog. Oye, donde puedo conseguir una ollita como la tuya? ¡Gracias!

    1. Hello, K Parker,

      I got it at Marshall's. And is not Mexican, in case you were wondering, it is from Italy.


  9. Please forgive me. My friend has been dating a man from Mexico for 5 years now. She doesn't really cook but my son and I will be moving in with them this month (we live in Maryland). I love to cook and found your website. I am hoping to cook for them Mexican cuisine. We have a local spanish store and I've made tostadas and quesadillas so far. Could you please help me? I know it is a cultural difference, but I don't think I understand the significance or appreciable value of a pot of beans for dinner?

    1. Hello Misharoz,

      This type of beans are mainly served as side dish, or a soup, but not usually as a main dish. We cook beans to be used in different recipes like refried beans, molletes, for corn tostadas, enfrijoladas, and many other dishes. Happy cooking! I don't know what part of Maryland are you located, but the best stores for Mexican groceries are the Megamarts.

  10. I have never used epazote and my parent's never used as well, but I noticed its used some mexican diahes like black beans. Is there another way i can add flavor to my beans until I can find this herb in nyc?
    By the way your blog is awesome as I have been using it for several years now, since i moved here to nyc from california. You should look into creating an app. for smart phones. Thanks.

    1. Hello,
      Not everyone adds Epazote, just add onion and garlic. To find epazote in NYC, check the latin stores in Harlem, they are small stores but usually well stocked. Or you can buy the dried form of Epazote here: about the App, I use to had an app, but it didn't seems to have to much success.

      Have fun cooking!

  11. Love your recipes do you have one for the fiesta bowl? Thanks

  12. Hello Cindy!,

    Sorry, but I'm not familiar with a recipe for a Fiesta Bowl, where did you eat it?


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