BLACK BEANS WITH RED CHILES : Ayocotes
Large black beans with a purplish cast, ayocotes are the traditional bean to serve with tamales and rice dishes. This recipe was the star of a wonderful breakfast I had at an eighteenthcentury saltworks in San Luis Potosí, along with hand-patted gorditas stuffed with chorizo and chicharrón, eggs cooked with copales, heaps of pan dulce, and earthenware cups of strong coffee flavored with cinnamon and piloncillo sugar. This recipe is so flavorful that it’s an excellent accompaniment to very simple foods, such as grilled or roasted meats. True ayocotes might be difficult to find outside of Mexico, but this recipe works perfectly well with regular black beans.
2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded
4 puya chiles, stemmed and seeded
1½ cups hot water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon whole dried Mexican oregano
2½ cups dried black or ayocote beans (about 1 pound), rinsed and picked over
8 cups water
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the chiles and toast on both sides, turning occasionally and pressing down with a spatula, until they soften and blister. Remove from the pan. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, tear them into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Add the hot water and soak the chiles, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
In a blender, combine the chiles and their soaking liquid, and the salt, pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and oregano and puree until smooth. Pour into a 5-quart slow cooker.
Add the beans to the slow cooker and stir in the water. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until very tender.