Frijoles Negros (Cuban Black Beans)

Growing up, my Cuban grandmother would cook up a bean soup or potajes, as we call them, at least once a week. Like any Cuban cook, it would be a different one every time. It would typically We'd have black beans, red beans, white beans, lentils, chick peas or some other bean. I loved them all, but black beans were my favorite.

My absolute favorite is black beans. There are so easy to make, low in fat and calories. Here's my recipe for my Frijoles Negros.  I've also added some pairing information so you can have it with a glass of wine that goes perfectly with it.

The Pairing

I typically serve red beans with rice as a side dish with pork, beef or chicken.  It goes with everything Cuban. Whether it's with pork, beer, chicken or by itself,  I recommend a light to medium bodied red.  Given that Cuban food origins lie squarely in Spain, why not go with a Spanish Tempranillo.  Something similar could be an Italian Chianti or another Sangiovese from there.  You might also consider a Pinot Noir.

If you are wanting white, you might try a Chardonnay.  My Chardonnay preference is a non-oaked one, but if you're into oaky California-style Chardonnay, give that a try.

Let me know what you think.

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The Recipe

  • 14 oz. bag of Black Beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 green pepper, chopped in the food processor.
  • 1 large onion, chopped in the food processor.
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped in the food processor.
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (I use fresh, but dried oregano is fine.)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp drive white wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place beans and the water in a large put and soak for overnight. If you don't have time, soak 'em for two hours or skip this step all together. (If you skip this step, it will just take longer to soften them up.)
  2. In the same pot, add a green pepper cut up into 3 or 4 pieces and bring it to a boil. Lower the stove to low heat and simmer it for about an hour. They are done when they feel soft when you bite into them, but not fully cooked yet.
  3. In a separate large skillet, add the olive oil and heat it over medium high.  When it gets hot, add the onions, peppers and garlic.  Cook for 7 to 8 minutes stirring them occasionally.
  4. Pour the contents of the skillet into the large pan with the beans.  Add the remaining ingredients as well except for the vinegar. Bring that to a boil, reduce heat to low and slow boil for 2 to 3 hours.  
  5. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.
  6. Serve in a bowl like you would soup or pour it over rice and use that as a side dish.  
  7. Enjoy