Black Beans and Rice
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed in cold water, picked over, and soaked overnight in cold water to cover by 1 1/2 inches (Remove any beans that float to the top)
1 bay leaf
1 medium-size green bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters
For the Sofrito:
2/3 cup pure Spanish olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, optional
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded aji cachucha (Rocatillo pepper) or green chile, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
The next day, check that the water is still covering the beans by 1 1/2 to 2 inches, and add more water if needed. Pour into a large saucepan, add the bay leaf and green pepper, bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and cook uncovered, until the beans are tender and they have almost cracked open, about 2 hours. Check the beans while they are cooking and if they need more liquid, add some hot water.
To prepare the Sofrito, in a skillet heat the olive oil over low heat until it is fragrant, add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion is transparent, 8-10 minutes. Add the cumin, vinegar, and Rocatillo pepper, and mix well.
Add the sofrito to the beans, mix well, and simmer over low heat, covered, until the beans crack open, 30 to 40 minutes. Season to taste and serve.