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Originally published September 29, 2009 at 3:01 PM | Page modified September 29, 2009 at 7:01 PM

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A Ruth Reichl favorite: Kemp's Black Beans

One of Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichl's favorite recipes from her new book, "Gourmet Today: More than 1,000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen." (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40.)

One of Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichl's favorite recipes from her new book, "Gourmet Today: More than 1,000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen." (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40.)

Kemp's Black Beans

Makes 8 to 9 cups

Active time: 15 minutes.

Start to finish: two hours. (50 minutes if using pressure cooker.)

Don't be misled by the short ingredient list; Kemp Minifie's black beans are surprisingly complex, thanks to the trinity of sherry, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. Leftovers are wonderful to have in the freezer — use them as you would canned beans in soups or stews. Minifie skips soaking her beans in order to preserve their ebony color.

1 pound dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 cups water

Salt

1/4 cup cream sherry or medium-dry sherry

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1 — 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 — 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Combine black beans, onion, oil, water, and ½ teaspoon salt in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on age of beans). Thin to desired consistency with additional water if necessary.

Stir in sherry and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir in soy sauce and vinegar (to taste) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes to blend flavors.

Cook's Notes

The beans can be cooked in about one third the time in a 6- to 8-quart pressure cooker. Combine the beans, onion, oil, water, and salt in the pressure cooker. Seal the pressure cooker with the lid and cook at high pressure, according to the manufacturer's instructions, until the beans are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Put the pressure cooker in the sink (do not remove the lid) and run cold water over the lid until the pressure goes down completely.

The beans improve in flavor if cooked at least 8 hours ahead. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cooled, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months. The beans thicken considerably as they stand; thin with water as necessary when reheating over moderately low heat.

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