Smoky Black Bean Ragout

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“I made something vegan!” This is what I exclaimed about an hour after I piled all of the ingredients for this dish into the  slow cooker, just as the delicious smoky smell of paprika and cumin began wafting into the living room.  Frankly, I was taken by surprise.

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You can probably tell by my reaction that we don’t do too many vegan meals around here.  The truth is that sometimes I find delicious-sounding vegan recipes, and then inevitably  un-veganize them by adding a pat of butter, or substituting chicken stock for water, or heck, adding a few pieces of bacon. Just a few. But this time I had actually done it.  I made something completely chock-full of non-animal based goodness.

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I immediately started worrying that I should have added a slice of bacon for just a little flavor, which was so silly, now that I’ve tried these beans.  They are incredibly flavorful, thanks in large part to all the wonderfully smoky, rich spices that have a nice long time to soak into the beans and make a thick, rich broth.  They don’t need bacon.  Strange, I know.

There are a lot of things I like about this ragout.  I like that it doesn’t call for pre-soaking the beans.  I am not so great at pre-mediated bean-soaking.  I like that it’s a crock pot meal, because I like throwing everything in one big pot at the beginning of the day and then feeling like I’m ahead of the game all day.  I also like that I can serve this one night as a side with Cochinita Pibil or tacos or grilled something-or-other, and then have it for lunch the next day, piled on top of garlic toasts and topped with all kinds of good things, and it seems like a whole different meal.  I like versatility in a ragout, don’t you?

DSC_0007I also kind of love that I have a vegan dish up my sleeve.  It makes me feel very prepared.  Prepared for, um… dinner party emergencies?  Are there such a thing?  Do I even have dinner parties?  Not really.  But if I did, and there was a vegan in attendance, I’d be set.

And yes, I do realize that making the cumin crema to top it all off makes it not-vegan.  I also realize that serving this as a side dish for mexican braised pork is kind of beside the point for a vegan dish.  But I don’t care, because this black bean ragout is just plain good eats.

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Smoky Slow-Cooker Black Bean Ragout

For the pickled onions, I use the ones from this recipe.  But really, equal parts vinegar and water, with a pinch of sugar and pinch of salt, poured over red onion slices will do the trick.

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (which rocks, by the way)

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder or cayenne

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 lb dried black beans, rinsed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons table salt

8 cups water (or stock)

1 TB lime juice

To Serve:

1 inch slices of good bread

Olive Oil

1 garlic clove, cut in half

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup sour cream

Pickled onions, diced

Chopped Cilantro

Put all ingredients in your  slow cooker. Cook on high until beans are very tender, approximately 6-8 hours. Add in lime juice and stir. (Note: Slow cookers vary greatly in their cooking temps, so times may vary.

To make the cumin crema, mix the sour cream and cumin in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to serve, preheat your broiler.  Brush bread slices with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Broil until toasted, and then take them out of the oven and rub the tops with the cut side of the garlic clove.

Ladle a spoonful of beans on top of the toasts, then top with crema, cilantro, and pickled onion.

*Alternatively, skip the toasts, crema, and other toppings and serve these beans as a side dish alongside meat, chicken, or fish.

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Filed under Side Dish, Soups and Stews

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