This weekend, Sunday Night Soups returns to its NFC East comfort zone. The Redskins head north on 95 and take exit 16W to the Meadowlands, where they will find the Giants waiting for them.
You can get many different kinds of soup in both D.C. and New York, the nominal homes of these franchises, which are in fact located in Landover, Maryland, and East Rutherford, New Jersey, respectively. Neither Landover nor East Rutherford has its own signature soup, and we did the Maryland crab thing last week.
One thing that does distinguish this matchup is a heavy University of Miami flavor. Players on both sides will be wearing patches or decals in honor of former Miami Hurricane Sean Taylor, the Redskins safety who was murdered last month in his home. The Redskins feature the inimitable Clinton Portis, as well as Santana Moss, both coming straight outta Coral Gables.
For the boys in blue, Miami product Jeremy Shockey is a tight end-cum-nightlife impresario, not to mention punter Jeff Feagles. More important, it's that ever-growing period known as "the holidays," where work, friends, and family conspire to pump you full of food in a way that might make you wonder if they plan to make a terrine out of your liver. Thus something with more nutritional merit than those Scotch eggs you scarfed at the last holiday party (waitthat was me) and a Floribbean flavor seems in order. Thus, black bean soup.
Maida Heatter's Cuban Black Beans and Rice (Adapted and Annotated by The Gurgling Cod)
- 1 pound dried black beans, preferably turtle beans
- 6 cups cold water
- 2 small ham hocks, about 1 1/4 pounds (get smoked ones, if you can)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green peppers
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- Cooked white rice
- 2 white onions
- Onions for black beans
Put the beans in a bowl with the six cups of cold water. Cover and let stand overnight. Make sure you have enough water to cover well.
Drain the beans, reserving the water in which they soaked. Measure the water and add enough additional water to make eight cups.
Place the beans, water and ham hocks in a small kettle or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook over low heat, uncovered, skimming the surface as necessary to remove any foam. Stir and make sure beans are not burning or sticking. The beans should cook until tender, four to six hours.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions and green peppers. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is wilted. Add the garlic and cook briefly, stirring. After the beans have cooked about two hours, add the mixture to the beans. Add the bay leaves, pepper flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper. While the beans cook, finely chop two white onions, and toss with about a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and a splash of white wine vinegar.
When the beans are almost tender, add rum, uncover and continue cooking 30 minutes. Be vigilant at this stage, for you want the beans not too soupy, but you do not want to burn them.
Remove the ham hocks. When they are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, fat, bones and gristle. Shred the meat and return it to the beans. (You need the hocks for flavor during the cooking, but effort/reward ratio for taking the edible meat off the hocks is between you and your conscience. One benefit of skipping this step is that the finished product is "vegetarian," if like some folks I know [Hi, mom!] your definition of "vegetarian" is "no big pieces of meat." ) Remove the bay leaves. Add the cayenne pepper and Tabasco. Serve with white rice.