I catered a small office lunch a while back. The menu was Ropa Vieja with rice, black beans, raw onions, lime wedges, and cilantro. I also served Corn Poblano Salad and a vegetarian “Ropa Vieja” alternative. In every catering job, there is usually a dish or two that cuts corners and is made the easier way. In this case, I doctored up canned black beans instead of starting with dried. An initial taste of the beans revealed a tinny taste that I was not comfortable serving. I didn’t have the time or the beans to start over so I had to improvise. I added a few extra ingredients into the beans and finished with a splash of balsamic vinegar, which is quickly becoming my favorite secret ingredient.
The beans were passable, but I delivered the food with some hesitation. I crossed my fingers that the rest of the food would shine through and nobody would care about the beans.
To my pleasant surprise, I learned later that the black beans were one of the favorite dishes. They stood out as a unique dish and were completely devoured!
I have since made these Smoky Balsamic Black Beans on purpose and using both canned and dried beans with great results. It’s so great when a recipe cover up becomes a new favorite.
What kitchen flukes have you turned into fan favorites?
20 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, or 3 cups cooked from dried
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 8 ounces low sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Place all ingredients in a saucepan over low-medium heat.
- Simmer the beans to incorporate the flavors, about 20 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender or a stand up blender, puree about 1/2 the beans.
- Return to the stove to keep warm until ready to serve.