Main Course

Smoky Spicy Black Beans with Hot Italian Sausage

Hot Italian sausages are not only very flavorful because they are seasoned with garlic, hot peppers, fennel and/or anise, but they also have nice big chunks of coarsely chopped pork, so it is a hearty, spicy and aromatic sausage. To compliment the richness and slight sweetness of the black beans, a few fragrant and smoky spices have been added to the mix. Get ready for this mélange of flavors. Cumin is an aromatic spice with a smoky flavor, coriander is mildly fragrant, aromatic and makes a great combination with cumin. Marjoram is a mild herb that adds a sweet oregano flavor, whilst Hungarian Paprika brings a richness, smokiness and depth to the dish. Thyme is just one of my staples and always seems to find itself into most of my dishes and it comes with a fresh subtle lemony bite.
Here are all the ingredients you will need:
2 15.5 ounce cans of black beans with liquid
1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 3 cloves of garlic
½ large onion, diced, about 1 cup
1 cup diced tomatoes with a little juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried French thyme
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon broken marjoram leaves
¼ teaspoon half- sharp Hungarian paprika
2 stalks scallions, finely sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
3 hot Italian sausages, about 14 ounces
2 rashers of bacon, sliced into ¼ inch slices, about 3 ounces
To begin, slice the rashers of bacon into ¼ inch slices and then start preparing the sausages. To prepare the sausages, I took off the casing, which was quite easy. I ran my knife along the top to the bottom of the sausage, lengthwise of course, which separated the casing, not cutting too deep into the sausage though and just peel off the casing. I do that because when you cut the sausages into pieces, the casing tends to hang off a bit on the sausage when cooking and it’s really not all that attractive. If you choose to leave it on, it will not spoil the dish at all. Once the casing has been removed, cut each sausage into ¾ and 1 inch pieces. So, 1½ sausages will be cut into 1 inch pieces and the other 1½ will be cut into ¾ inch pieces. I did that just to get slightly different size pieces to bite into. You will see that it’s a pretty course type of sausage when you cut them into pieces. You can see the meat, fat and spices, which makes them so nice and hearty. Now if you do not like spicy, you can substitute it for the sweet Italian sausage, which has the same ingredients, except the hot pepper, so you will be losing absolutely no flavor.
Now, just make sure that our pot is nice and hot before tossing in the bacon that has been sliced, which we will sauté for 1 minute at medium heat before adding in the sausage pieces. Stir occasionally until the sausage pieces are a bit brown in color. In the meantime, dice ½ of a large onion. Once you see the sausage pieces getting brown, add the onions into the pot and give it a good mix. Wow, that smell of the bacon, sausage and the onions are delicious as the mixture of flavors hit your nose. You will notice that nothing is overdone. The bacon isn’t crispy and the sausage isn’t burnt. You will need no oil for this dish as the bacon offers enough.
Leave the bacon, sausage and onions for about 8 minutes while all the flavors start blending with each other and we have a flavorful and tasty base before adding the black beans. Don’t forget to stir every now and then. Starting mincing the 3 cloves of garlic and slicing the 2 stalks of scallions and set aside. After 8 minutes, add the black beans with the liquid, because that will bind everything together, so you get this nice thick consistency. Then, add the garlic, scallion and spices.
Be careful when adding the crushed red pepper flakes with the rest of the spices. I love spicy, so it was fine for me. My suggestion is to omit the crushed red pepper first while it simmers and see if the sausages give you the heat that you need, if not then add a pinch at a time. Remember, the heat of the stove will bring out heat in the pepper.
Turn down the heat to a low and allow to simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes, checking every now and then before adding the cup of diced tomatoes. Watch out when you open that pot, you will be hit by some amazing aromas coming at you. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes before removing the lid, let it simmer for a further 5 minutes uncovered, so that the excess liquid can evaporate. Voilà. There you have a quick and simple dish that serves 4. Serve in a bowl with a spoon. If you wish, you can also serve with white rice, a dollop of sour cream and some freshly chopped cilantro on top. Enjoy.

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