Yucatan Style Black Beans with Pork – Frijol con Puerco

In Yucatan, many families have a strong tradition of eating specific dishes on each day of the week, and Mondays are known as the day for a bowl of beans with pork“El lunes de frijol con puerco” – “Beans with Pork Monday” allegedly originated because pigs were processed for meat on Saturdays, making Mondays a good day to use trimmings and small cuts of pork.  Although it takes a long time to cook, this dish is easy to make, involving only short periods of active time; it is understandable why cooks would choose to make it on Mondays, to ease their way into the week, but that makes it also a great choice for a satisfying and comforting meal, any day of the week. 

Yucatan Style Black Beans with Pork – Frijol con puerco

Printable recipe: Yucatan Style Black Beans with Pork – Fijol con puerco 

Ingredients (for 4 portions)

1 lb (454 g) pork shoulder with bone
1 ½ cups dry black beans
1 cup long grain rice
1 white onion; peeled
1 clove garlic; peeled, and minced
1 large tomato; washed
1 bunch red radishes; washed
3 sprigs epazote, if available*, or omit; washed, use leaves only
1 bunch cilantro; washed
3-4 limes; washed, and sliced into wedges
Habanero (or Scotch Bonnet) peppers, to taste; washed
2 tbsp oil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Water, as needed 
Corn tortillas

*NOTE:  Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides) is a traditional Mexican herb; in English, it is known as Mexican tea or wormseed.  The herb may be found fresh in markets and some supermarkets in Mexico, and in the US, sometimes at Hispanic grocery stores.  Online, it may be found dried, but it is usually expensive, and its characteristic perfume is somewhat lost.  I always recommend to grow epazote in the backyard, where it easily self-seeds and might even become pernicious; to preserve some for winter, freezing is the way to go.  Sometimes I offer some substitutions, but in many cases, it is better just to omit. In this recipe, epazote may be substituted with cilantro in the pot with the beans and pork, but omitted, if not available, in the rice.

Rinse beans in water, removing stones, broken beans, and any other impurities.  Drain, then allow to soak in cold water for a couple of hours to overnight.  Drain water and place beans in a large pot; fill with water.  Place pot on the stove over high heat; bring water to boil, reduce heat to medium, then cover pot and cook beans for about two hours, until fully cooked, but still firm:

Cut up meat into chunks, removing excess fat:

Add to the beans, along with a small piece of white onion:

Cover pot, leaving a small gap so the broth will not overflow, and cook for one hour.

Meanwhile, roast tomato, and about one quarter of the onion, on a comal (Mexican flat grill) or dry iron skillet (no oil) until charred (photo below, left).  Remove stem spot from tomato, then transfer to a blender jar with the onion, one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice, and salt to taste; pulse a few times for a slightly chunky sauce.  Alternatively, place ingredients in a molcajete (Mexican mortar), and grind by hand (photo below, right):

Transfer sauce to a bowl and reserve until serving time.

Roast hot peppers to char the same way, or as I prefer, place on Aluminium foil (photo below, left), then roast in the toaster oven under the broiler, to have better control with heat coming from above; turn around a couple of times, for an even charring (photo below, right):

Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Remove ends from radishes, chop, transfer to a bowl, and reserve.

Chop cilantro, transfer to a bowl, and reserve.

Chop epazote leaves (if using, I had some frozen from my garden); reserve. 

Chop the rest of the onion, reserve half a cup (for the rice), and transfer the rest to a bowl.  Reserve.

After the meat and beans have been cooking for one hour, uncover and add more water, as needed, to cover, and make the broth thin again:

Continue cooking for half an hour.  Scoop two cups of hot broth from the pot into a measuring cup:

Reserve broth (for rice).  Season beans and pork with salt and pepper, to taste, then add two tablespoons of chopped epazote (if using, or may substitute with some of the chopped cilantro):

The meat should be fully cooked, but might not be fork-tender yet; cover and continue cooking, adding more water, if needed.

Prepare rice: Warm up two tablespoons of oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add reserved rice and half cup of chopped onions; fry until onions are translucent, and rice has turned opaque and starts to change colour, then add one teaspoon of salt (or to taste), minced garlic, and one tablespoon of chopped epazote (if using, photo below, left).  Stir to mix for a few seconds, then add reserved hot broth (photo below, right):

Stir to scrape any food from the bottom of the pot, then reduce heat to the lowest possible, cover pot and allow rice to cook, undisturbed, for twenty minutes.  Uncover, and check for a dry bottom of the pot, but also to see if the rice is cooked; this is because the broth could have been thicker than water, hence might need more liquid.  In the photo below, left, a dry bottom may be seen, but the grains of rice look noticeably dull, and mostly were hard to the touch.  If that is the case, add half a cup of boiling water, cover, and let cook for a few more minutes.  Check again; my batch was fully cooked after five minutes, and easily  fluffed with a fork after allowed to rest for another five, with the stove off (photo below, right):

Keep warm until serving time.

Check beans and continue cooking until the meat falls off the bone (photo below, left).  Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper, to taste.  The meat and beans are very tender now, ready to serve (photo below, right):

Place a portion of beans and pork on each plate, add rice, and reserved fresh veggies, and offer with warm corn tortillas, sauce, charred hot peppers, and lime wedges on the side:

A more traditional way to serve is to scoop rice into bowls, then top with beans and pork, and offer all the toppings and seasonings at the table, to allow each person to build their portion to taste:

As for where the dish itself came from, some historians have postulated that African slaves in the Caribbean and Brazil might have started adding discarded pieces of meat and bones to their black beans and rice, later on introducing the dish to the neighbouring Yucatan peninsula; on the other hand, other scholars find this theory questionable because Europeans are known to use all parts of the pig (“everything but the squeal” as they say in Spain).  This brings up the questions of how strong African heritage is in Yucatan, and what the socio-economic role of slaves was, both interesting, and often forgotten, parts of the peninsula’s history.  Stay tuned for more on that, in my next post, which might also shed some light on the possible provenance of Frijol con Puerco. 

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I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #628 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #579, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.

I am joining Fiesta Friday #472 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday.

I am sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #407 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.


6 thoughts on “Yucatan Style Black Beans with Pork – Frijol con Puerco

  1. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #473

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