Black beauty

[Recipe 1] BLACK BEAN, CORN and CHORIZO STEW transforms into
[Recipe 2] BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS with MANCHEGO
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The husband returned on Sunday night from his men’s weekend. They like to theme their getaways and this time it was Mexican. They watched B-Grade Mexican movies, and ingested quite a lot of Corona. Our male friends are all amazing cooks (and our lady friends too, for that matter). There were two tortilla presses along for the ride. They all brought a pot of something for dinner, and there wasn’t a bowl of nachos to be seen. There was an amazing carnitas (twice-cooked pork), a beaut shredded chicken number and spiced beans galore; including the load I sent my man on his way with – a Black bean, corn and chorizo stew. It’s probably more generally South American in origin but he wasn’t complaining. It’s served with a zesty Fresh capsicum and lime salsa and it’s delicioso.
Hope I’m not blowing my own trumpet too loudly about the recipes on this blog. I certainly wouldn’t go on and on about my artwork or anything else, but I reckon it’s different with food, and decided early on in this blog endeavor not to be too shy. I figured you’d be unlikely to try any of the recipes without some kind of testimonial!
Back to the cookin’… this Black bean stew is a great recipe to make if you have one or more vegetarians sharing the dinner table. You can scoop out a portion for them before you add the chorizo for the carnivores. It’s lovely and flavorsome, even without the chorizo; and I can’t begin to tell you how yummy it is, served up later as Black bean quesadillas, oozing with molten manchego cheese. Ay, caramba!
I absolutely love manchego. It’s a Spanish hard cheese made of sheep’s milk, and is smooth with a lovely salty bite. It’s available in good speciality food stores, but if you can’t find it you can easily replace it with pecorino or even good old vintage cheddar. My sons are just as happy with cheddar, so no point wasting manchego on them!
This recipe makes a huge vat, enough stew to serve 6–8 (or 5 Corona-fueled men), plus an extra portion for the tortillas. Adiós amigos.

Black bean, corn and chorizo stew

[Recipe 1] Black bean, corn and chorizo stew

Ingredients (makes stew for 6–8 people and quesadillas for 4):
1 kilo (2 lb) dried black beans (turtle beans), soaked overnight
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), chopped
3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimentón), or sweet paprika if unavailable
2 green jalapeño chillies, de-seeded, chopped
3 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 large cobs/ears)
2⅔ cups (700ml) tomato passata (tomato puree)
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more, to taste)
1 large chorizo sausage* (300g/10 oz), casing removed, halved lengthwise, sliced thinly
Fresh capsicum (bell pepper) salsa, to serve
Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
Steamed rice, to serve

Drain soaked black beans and place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 10 cups of water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 50–60 minutes, covered, until just tender. Drain again, reserving 2 cups of the soaking water, and return to saucepan.
Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion and capsicum for 5–8 minutes, until soft.
Add toasted coriander and cumin seeds to the pan with the garlic. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Transfer onion, capsicum and spice mixture to the saucepan with drained black beans. Add paprika, chillies, corn kernels, passata, 2 cups reserved water (from the soaked beans) and wine. Cover and simmer over a low heat for one hour. Stir frequently as beans are notorious pot-stickers (see my note about using a heat diffuser, below this recipe).
Add maple syrup, chilli powder and salt and stir well.
♦ Reserve 2–3 cups Black bean stew for the Black bean quesadillas with manchego.
Add a splash more olive oil to the frying pan and fry chorizo slices until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.
To the remaining black bean stew, stir in the chorizo slices. Reserve a few slices for scattering on top. Simmer, stirring, for a further ten minutes.
Ladle stew into deep serving bowls, and serve scattered with fresh capsicum salsa, extra chorizo slices and coriander; with bowls of rice on the side.

  • Be sure to use good-quality dried salami-style chorizo, not fresh ‘sausage-style’.
  • Black bean, corn and chorizo stew can be frozen for up to 3 months; or refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Black beans (turtle beans) are available in health food stores and speciality food stores. If you can’t find them though, you could replace them with dried kidney beans. This info on black beans is amazing. They apparently contain more than three times the omega 3-fatty acids than other beans (including kidney beans). They’re also a rich source of anti-oxidant flavonoids due to their black skin. Who knew?
  • To prevent beans, thick soups and sauces sticking to the bottom of my pots, I use a little heat-diffuser my mum (a kitchen gadget lover like myself) gave me years ago. I love it. It’s a metal disk with holes on the edges, for placing under a pot to prevent direct heat burning your ingredients. There are lots of different ones available on Amazon.

Black bean quesadillas

[Recipe 2] Black bean quesadillas with manchego

Ingredients (serves 4):
8 tortillas
2–3 cups reserved Black bean stew
1 cup (100g) shaved or grated manchego cheese
Lime wedges, to serve

Place four tortillas on your benchtop. Brush lightly with oil and flip over.
Top each with reserved black bean stew. No need to warm up the stew first – straight from the fridge is fine.
Scatter with manchego. Place remaining four tortillas on top, and brush tops with olive oil. Cook quesadillas in a non-stick saucepan until golden. Carefully flip them over after 2 or 3 minutes.
Cut quesadillas into quarters and serve immediately, with lime wedges and a simple green salad.