In Mexico, black beans are often cooked with epazote, a pungent herb with a heady aroma that is not unlike cilantro. Like mint, it grows almost everywhere—even where you don’t want it to. We use it extensively: in soups, stews, bean dishes, and more. You can sometimes find fresh epazote in Latin American and Mexican markets. Never buy dried epazote—it is virtually tasteless. If you cannot find epazote, do as they do in Oaxaca, and add avocado leaves to the beans as they cook.
- 1 pound (about 2½ cups) black beans, rinsed and picked over
- ½ small white onion, roughly chopped (about ½ cup)
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 3 large fresh epazote stalks
- 1 large jalapeno
- 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
Put the beans, onion, garlic, and 8 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering and cook, uncovered, until the beans are softened but not tender, about 1 hour.
Cut a slit in the jalapeño and add it to the beans, along with the epazote and salt. Continue cooking until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. There should be enough liquid to cover the beans throughout cooking; if not, add warm water as necessary. Remove the jalapeño, check the seasoning, and serve.