Stewed beans are such a popular request in my household that I often make it even when I’m lacking a few of the ingredients—hence the abundance of optional components below. The quick-and-dirty version is fine in a pinch, but if you really want to taste this at its best, prepare as written. Each of the optional ingredients provides another layer of flavor – the ham adds some salt, the potato makes the dish just a bit heartier and helps to thicken the sauce, and the cilantro adds an herby freshness. (Please note that without the additional ingredients, this recipe is enough for only about 6 servings.)
4 ounces boneless thick-cut ham, diced [optional]
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sazón
2 cups (15.5 ounces) canned kidney beans, drained
1 medium (6 ounce) potato, diced [optional]
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons recaíto
1/2 ounce fresh cilantro, chopped [optional]
medium (2-quart) pot, with lid
measuring cups and spoons
1. Combine ham, oil, and sazón in pot over medium-high heat. Sauté until ham is lightly browned—about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, dice potatoes.
2. Add diced potatoes, beans, tomato sauce, water, and recaíto. Stir well, then let cook until mixture begins to boil—about 3 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low and cover with lid. Simmer until sauce has thickened and potatoes are tender—about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and chop cilantro.
4. Stir in chopped cilantro leaves.
NOTES & TIPS
• Thick-cut ham is usually labeled “cooking ham” or “ham steak” in the supermarket. You can also swap out ham for chorizo.
• No ham? Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or replace water with chicken stock.
• I don’t typically peel my potatoes.
• Traditionally, habichuelas guisadas is made with calabaza (West Indian pumpkin), but I use potato, for the sake of convenience.