Black Beans with Epazote

The ancient Mayan word for bean is bu’ul, plural is bu’ul-ob (the ‘ is a glottal stop)

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides) is a rough, weedy plant with pungent taste and pointed serrated leaves, a native of tropical America and used a lot in central and south Mexico but not much in the north and northwest. Barbara McKenzie, who always has some in her plot, would be happy to share if you want to try it.

This recipe is from Diana Kennedy’s “The Cuisines of Mexico”. Diana writes: “It is very much an acquired taste, but after a while to cook black beans without it is unthinkable”.  I agree!

1 lb black turtle beans
1/2 a large onion, peeled
about 10 cups water
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil (Diana uses lard)
1 tablespoon salt or to taste
2 large sprigs epazote

Wash the beans, drain, and add to a pot (earthenware is best if you have one). Cut the onion in half vertically, then slice into very thin half-moons and add to beans (this looks like a lot of onion for the amt of beans but the onion disintegrates during the cooking and becomes part of the great soupy liquid). Add water and olive oil, bring to a boil, turn down to a slow simmer, cover and cook for about 2 hours or until the beans are almost done. Add water along the way so there is always ample liquid.

Add the epazote and salt and cook for an additional half hour or until the beans are very soft. Set aside, preferably overnight. There should be plenty of soupy liquid

Diana writes: “Frijoles de olla are traditionally served, beans and broth together, in small earthenware bowls, after the main course and before the dessert”.

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