Monday, June 30, 2008

Los Frijoles Colorados de Mery (Red Bean Soup)

We spent a wonderful afternoon at Mery and Angelito's (Cris' in-laws) house not only learning how to make a fantastic Cuban style red bean soup, but also looking at old pictures, telling stories and drinking wine!

This soup recipe makes about 8 servings and can also be served in the traditional Cuban fashion over white rice.

Mery, our teacher!

The Ingredients

12 oz. bag Red Kidney Beans
4 cups water - enough to cover the beans
1 lb. Smoked Pork Shank - leave whole
1 lb. Smoked Pork Shoulder (ham) - chunked
6 oz. Spanish Chorizo (3-4 sausages) - leave whole
1/3 Medium Green Pepper - chopped
1/2 Medium Onion - chopped
2 large garlic cloves - minced
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 cup corn oil
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Black Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
3 Small Potatoes - peeled and cubed
2 lb Calabaza - peeled, seeded and cubed

The Process
  1. Soak beans in plain water for 2 hours. (You can do this in the pressure cooker to avoid using another pot)

  1. Add 4 cups water, put the lid on the pressure cooker and seal. Cook on High until the cooker pressurizes.
  2. Once the cooker has pressurized change the stove temperature to Medium. Cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat until all pressure is gone. Remove the lid.
  4. Set on low heat and add the smoked pork shoulder, smoked pork shank, chorizo, green pepper, onion, bay leaves, garlic, corn oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  5. Without replacing the lid return to heat, taste for salt and pepper, add more if needed. Set on Medium for about 45 minutes until the soup is thick enough to coat a spoon.
  6. Add the potatoes and calabaza.
  7. Leave on Medium for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  8. Remove from heat.
TIP: When you're making any Cuban-style bean "potaje", if it doesn’t thicken properly, for whatever reason, scoop out some of the beans and puree them in the blender. Add the pureed beans back into the pot to help the thickening process.

The Finished Product

Mery served the red beans in the traditional Cuban style over white rice and with a green bean and onion salad. A California Pinot Noir was a great accompaniment.

In keeping with traditional Cuban dining, we enjoyed the most traditional of Cuban desserts, guava and cheese! We had Guava marmalade with cream cheese and Guava paste with Gouda cheese - fantastic! And to finish it all off, delicious cafecito.

Nice and simple...Another beautiful afternoon spent with wonderful food, stories and people!

¡Buen provecho!