Black Friday isn’t what it used to be.
I say that not with sadness or nostalgia, but a deep sense of relief. Holiday sales will forever persist, pushing everything from lawnmowers to lingerie, but the singular focus on one big shopping day has dispersed to encompass the entire interval from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Door busters are digital and shipping is free; why bother waking up early to fight the crowds? This tradition of dubious appeal from the onset is now fully obsolete. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to redefine Black Friday.
Black beans are the antidote to Black Friday’s typical excess. Decidedly unglamorous, unassuming, and unpretentious, black beans won’t force you out of bed early or judge you for the previously night’s debauchery. Taking it a step further, braised black beans, gently stewed in velvety coconut milk and invigorating aromatics, speak of a wholly different sort of richness.
Rifling through the pantry and freezer, this combination of Southeast Asian staples spoke to me above the cacophony of typically autumnal herbs and spices. The fragrant, floral notes of makrut lime leaves and lemongrass share the spotlight, bolstered by the sharp undertone of ginger and jalapeno. Balanced by the natural sweetness of the coconut milk, it’s already so buttery that no additional oils need apply.
Take It Easy
For anyone else still weary from cooking marathons or hosting duties, I’ve got you. Just one step more complicated than a genuine dump dinner, you don’t even need to drain the cans of beans or dirty another dish. Go ahead, take other shortcuts like using pre-minced garlic or ginger paste; no one will be able to argue with the end results.
Personally, I’m perfectly happy spooning these beans right into my mouth, straight out of the pot, while hovering over the stove. If you have more patience though, your time and effort will be rewarded when you round out this entree with proper sides. Ideally, add at least some come kind of starch to soak in all that savory potlikker.
- Rice, be it basmati, jasmine, or any fluffy steamed long grain rice
- Bread, thinly sliced and toasted
- Stewed collard greens, meltingly tender
- Arugula salad, for a subtly bitter contrast
- Avocado, for a buttery bite of extra decadence
Alternately, switch up the prep to transform it into an entirely different dish.
- Roughly mash to make them approximately the texture of refried beans, then use in tacos, burritos, tamales, enchiladas, etc
- Add vegetable broth and serve as a soup, optionally pureeing some or all
- Simmer rice right in the same saucepan to make one-pot beans and rice
Make It Your Own
There are no hard and fast rules here. Born out of convenience, this formula is ripe for adaptation. Almost everything is changeable, like…
- Using chickpeas, white beans, or adzuki instead of black beans
- Adding more or less garlic, ginger, and jalapeno, to taste
- Switching up the seasonings with curry powder, chili powder, or lemon-pepper
Don’t Over-Think It
Black Friday can be a complicated mixture of emotions and memories, wants and needs, no matter what the reality of it is today. Black beans, however, should always be simple.