Every time I cook Frijoles de la Olla or beans from the pot 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. Surprise your family today!
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.
Rinse the beans thoroughly. Have the onion and garlic ready.
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.
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 ½ 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.
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.
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.
• * 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.