The one meal that I remember eating the most when I was a kid was beans, Colombian style beans. When we were living with my great aunt, she used to make them every night and would serve them with a side of white rice, beef or chicken and a Colombian arepa. And it’s funny because we never got tired of eating them, in fact, people would come over for dinner uninvited because her beans were amazing. As kids, my cousins and I would make fun and sarcastically ask, “Hmmm… I wonder what we’re going to have for dinner tonight?” But like I said, we loved them and ate every single bit of them.
In Colombia we eat beans all the time and every family has their own recipe. The most popular way to make them in Antioquia, which is where I’m from, is by adding ham hocks or pork hocks, along with a green plantain. My grandmother loved adding collard greens or “cidra” which is a type squash, also called “chayote”, but that’s not really the way I like them. I want my beans meaty and full of pork flavor so I almost always use ham hocks. If you’re not too fond of adding a pig’s foot in your beans, or can’t find any, you can also make them with pork belly which also gives them an amazing flavor, same with bacon, except most bacon sold here in the US is smoked and then your beans won’t really have that Colombian flavor.
The type of beans we always use are cranberry beans which are very easy to find here in the US. These beans are gorgeous, they have beautiful red spots on the outside that are usually lost during the cooking process and are packed with flavor. Also, the ones sold in Colombia are a lot bigger than the ones we find here but they taste the same. If for some reason you can’t find them at your grocery store you can use pinto beans or even red beans.
Serve this dish with a side of white rice and a nice piece of avocado. They’re amazing!
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 lb ham hocks **See Notes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 lb cranberry beans **See Notes
- 10 cups (2.36 liters) water or more, divided
- 1 green plantain, chopped
- ½ large carrot
- 2 cubes (4 tbsp) of Colombian aliños
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse and soak the beans overnight in about 5 cups of water. The next day drain the beans, rinse them, and set them aside.
- Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in a big pot or pressure cooker. Add the ham hocks and brown them for about 5 minutes.
- Now add the bay leaf and garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Add the beans with about 8-10 cups of water, the plantain, the carrot and the aliños. Make sure the beans are completely covered with water, so you can add more, if needed.
- If you’re using a pressure cooker, add 1 tbsp of oil to prevent the water from foaming.
- Cover the pressure cooker and bring to pressure, then lower the heat to medium low and cook for 25 minutes. Cook for 1½ – 2 hours on medium low if you’re using a regular pot.
- Remove the pressure cooker from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before releasing the pressure.
- Once all the pressure is released, open the pressure cooker and remove the ham hocks to let them cool. You can also discard the bay leaf.
- Remove the carrot and blend it with about one cup of beans and liquid from the pot until smooth. Then add this mixture back into the pot. This will help thicken the beans and it will also add the flavor of the carrot.
- Once the ham hocks have cooled, remove the meat and add it back to the beans. Discard the bones. **See Notes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste before serving. Serve with a side of white rice and avocado.
- If you don’t want to add the ham hocks you can also make these beans with any pork meat including pork belly and pork ribs.
- You can also serve the ham hocks whole.
- Cranberry beans are the typical beans that are used in Colombia to make this recipe. However, you can also use pinto, red, or black beans.
- You can simmer the beans over low heat for about 15 minutes to help them thicken.