Tonight, I didn’t feel like cooking. But I also didn’t feel like going out, or getting take out. So, inspired by Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee (oh Lordy), I decided to make my own favorite semi-homemade meal. Black beans. From a can. Yeah, you heard me.
Canned black beans are a seriously overlooked convenience food. Even at my East Village supermarket, a can is only $1.29. They take less than five minutes to cook. And, most importatly, if you are willing to take just two seconds longer than the two seconds it takes to open the can, you can elevate them from a perfectly adequate Tuesday night meal to one that is actually quite tasty.
Usually, I add a bay leaf (remember to take it out before serving), a dash of cayenne, and a fair amount (maybe a teaspoon) of cumin. Sometimes you’ll need salt, which depends on the brand of beans you use (Goya is already salty enough, Progresso needs salt), and you’ll want to grind some pepper in there at the end. I had some mushrooms sitting around that were beginning to dry up, so I sliced those up and threw them in, too. You could also add raw or cooked onions, any number of pre-cooked veggies, and/or sour cream or cheese at the end. Whatever you put into black beans, they’ll thank you for it, and pay you back tenfold.
I served the black beans with a chicken breast I had breaded by first seasoning it with salt and freshly ground pepper and then dredging it in a mix of bread crumbs (packaged), cayenne, a little finely grated parmesan, and some dried oregano. Baked it in the oven for about 5 minutes on each side before running it through the broiler for about 2 minutes on each side to get some color. I also made a salad. The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes, with time for me to do the dishes while waiting for the chicken to finish cooking. If you really want a low effort meal, you could just scramble up some eggs. Or, make some white rice for the perennial (and un-pc) favorite moros y cristianos.