Tasked to write a recipe for a dear friend (Shirley Bovshow), I wanted to make sure I was accurate in referencing her heritage. We spoke about the foods she grew up eating, and I incorporated those into a new take on classic baked beans.
I love the way yuca thickens the cooking liquid, making these beans velvety and luscious. A ham hock cooked alongside the beans adds flavor and depth, while coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice transport us to the Caribbean. If you're trying to live a more plant-based life, these beans are a great place to start, using meat as a seasoning, not a feature!
1 pound Dried Black Beans
1 Red Onion, roughly chopped/quartered
1 Smoked Ham Hock (~1 pound)
4 cloves Garlic, smashed
2 Bay Leaves
1 bunch Cilantro Stems, tied with butcher’s twine (reserve leaves for garnish at end)
1 can Coconut Milk
Juice of 1 lime (~1 tablespoon)
1 pound Peeled Yuca Root, cubed
2 tomatoes, cubed (~1 pound)
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, cover beans with cold water by several inches and stir in 1 tablespoon (15g) salt. Let beans soak at least 12 hours and up to 1 day. Drain and rinse.
Combine beans with red onion, ham hock, garlic, bay leaves, and cilantro stems in a Dutch oven and cover with water by several inches. Add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, topping up with water as necessary, until beans are fully tender, about 45 minutes. Using tongs, discard cilantro stems and bay leaves.
Using a ladle, scoop out as much bean cooking liquid as you can, about 2 cups. Reserve this and set aside.
Stir coconut milk and lime juice into beans, season pot with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir cubed yuca and tomato into beans.
Place Dutch oven in oven at 325˚, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, until yuca is tender and beans are flavorful. Stir every hour or so to re-expose the top of the beans. If beans are drying out before yuca is tender, add reserved bean cooking liquid. When finished, garnish with cilantro leaves.