Guatemalan Frijoles Colorados con Chorizo (Guatemalan Red Beans with Chorizo)

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Sometimes I think frijoles colorados, or red beans, get swept under the table in Guatemala, a country obsessed with its black beans. But the frijoles colorados come in a bath of tomato and (sometimes) chorizo broth spiked with cumin and chili and elevated plain ol’ beans to something special. The beans are cooked down so much they start to break down and thicken the broth, making it a great bread-dipping dish. It’s worth keeping a container in the fridge or the freezer as a base for tacos, enchiladas, rice bowls, even soup (just add some sautéed carrots and celery and a bit of broth). Now that I’m writing again full-time and going to Spanish school, it’s nice to know I’ll always have something for dinner, something a little special.

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Guatemalan Frijoles Colorados con Chorizo
(Guatemalan Red Beans with Chorizo)

I’ve been eating a lot of frijoles colorados lately, cause this makes a ton. I’ve eaten them wrapped in fresh tortillas with a little queso fresco, I’ve fried them with scrambled eggs, I’ve made tostadas, and I’m planning on making nachos tonight (straining the liquid, of course).They’d also fair well over rice with diced avocado, kind of like a bean and rice bowl. Experiment. It’s a good dish just to have around in the fridge. Prep time: 5 minutes, plus overnight to soak beans, cook time: 30 minutes plus two hours largely unattended while beans cook. Serves: 10-12, freezes well.

1 pound red beans, picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 whole head of garlic 
1 medium onion, peeled and scored
salt
1 teaspoon olive oil 
1/4 pound chorizo, sliced into a diagonal (optional) 
1 medium onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced 
1 cup tomatoes, about 2 large, diced 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/4 teaspoon ground chili 
crema to serve

Put beans, head of garlic and whole onion in a pot, cover with water by two inches and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for one and half to two hours, until beans are very soft. Add salt to taste (I added about two teaspoons sea salt). 

Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan and saute chorizo with onion and garlic, about five minutes (if omitting chorizo, just fry onions and garlic in oil). Add tomatoes, cumin and ground chili, cook over medium heat for five minutes to break down tomatoes. Add to red beans and simmer for another twenty minutes. Adjust salt to taste and serve with crema. 

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