Canned vs. Homemade: A Battle to the Death

RECIPE: Cuban Black Beans

My husband is still on the diet. He’s down two notches on his belt. *Pausing here for applause.*

I’m still struggling to do my best to help him on this journey. He basically eats a really lot of meat, veggies and beans. He has to have beans with every meal. I personally would feel weird eating a side of pinto beans at 6AM, but he’s been doing it for almost a month an is handling it just fine.

He did mention last week that some of the beans he has been eating (mostly canned) didn’t have a lot of flavor. This coincided nicely with a new issue of Everyday Food showing up in my mailbox with a recipe for Cuban Black Beans.

Jason actually has canned Cuban Black Beans in his stockpile, so I thought I would make the homemade kind and we could do a little taste test. I served both beans last night with pork soft tacos and ask the family to vote. The result was:

Bennett: The dark ones (homemade) are definitely way better. Do I have to eat the other ones? They’re pretty gross.

Jonas (stirring the piles together): I like them both! Do I have to eat all my taco? It’s kind of gross.

Gray: The light ones (canned) are much better. Do I have to eat the dark ones? They’re really gross and I might throw up.

Jason: The homemade are better.

Me: But are they better enough for two and a half hours of chopping and simmering?

Jason: Yeah, that’s debatable. Probably not that much better.

And I agreed with him (the kids are useless, clearly). The homemade were really good. They had a nice garlic/cumin/cilantro scent and a much richer flavor. But there was a decent amount of work involved. I think probably if I’m just feeding the family at home I would stick with the canned. The homemade, however, would make a lovely side dish to bring along to a potluck or cookout. Plus, I suppose a case could be made for making a big batch of the homemade one and freezing them in small batches to thaw one at a time. But you’d have to have your shit pretty together to pull that off.

Cuban Black Beans
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Recipe type: Side Dish
Author: Everyday Food Magazine
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 10 mins
Serves: a billion
Ingredients
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 carrots, but into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 1/4 tspn cumin
  • 1 lb dried black beans (soaked according to the package)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, stems only, tied with kitchen twine
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Throw in all veggies. Saute 8 minutes or so.
  2. Stir in cumin and cook another minute.
  3. Add everything else plus 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours or until beans are soft enough. Don’t stop when they’re still crunchy.
  4. Remove bay leave and cilantro stems bundle.

 

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3 Responses to Canned vs. Homemade: A Battle to the Death

  1. Jim Tolar says:

    So many questions and comments…
    1) “10 minutes of prep” is not “a decent amount of work”. 2 hours of simmering is no work at all. make a double batch for no extra effort.
    2) it doesn’t require having any of your shit together to ladle beans into 2-cup plasticware containers and putting them into the freezer. it’s the same effort as actually serving the beans. then, you have homemade beans for many future meals.
    3) homemade is WAY healthier. don’t believe me? check the label on your canned beans for added salt and sugar and preservatives.
    4) plus, it makes your house smell awesome.

    finally: your kids continue to crack me up.

    Dad

    • Elizabeth says:

      OK, yes, I completely agree on 3 and 4. As for 1 and 2, there’s really something to be said for opening a can that you decided to feed the family exactly 3 minutes earlier. I think the necessary preparation and organization to carry out the making ahead of time and freezing and thawing is fairly minimal, but for a busy parent, sometimes even fairly minimal preparing ahead and organizing is asking too much. Especially if it’s just for better flavor that 3 out of the 5 members of your family do not yet have mature enough palates to appreciate.

  2. AmandaD says:

    A can of black beans is made way more delicious with a handful of cilantro STEMS thrown in. I don’t know why, but that’s where all the flavor is.

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