1 lb. package of dried black beans
1 smoked ham hock
Freshly ground black pepper
Goya sazon packets
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, medium diced
2 stalks of celery, medium diced
1 large Spanish onion, medium diced
1 bell pepper, medium diced
1 3/4 lb.-1 lb. ham steak, medium diced
1 head of garlic, finely diced
3/4 cup of pimiento stuffed green olives, small diced
1 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped
Using a large stock pot, rinse and sort black beans. Cover with water to about three times the depth of the beans and soak overnight. Drain water, then add the same amount of water again and drain again. Again cover beans with water to about three times the depth of the beans in the pan. Bring to a high simmer/low boil and cook until the beans become tender. This will take a while, somewhere from 3 to 6 hours. When the beans start to become tender, add the smoked ham hock to the stock pot and continue cooking.
Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron skillet or large non-stick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add olive oil and continue heating. To start preparing the sofrito, add the carrots to the skillet and saute for a couple of minutes, then add the celery to the skillet and saute a couple of minutes. Continue the process with the onion, bell pepper, ham, garlic, and olives.
When the sofrito has been prepared add it to the black beans. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper (to taste), 3-4 Goya sazon packets (to taste), paprika (to taste), cumin (to taste), and Italian spices (to taste).
Serve with plenty of fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, and Tabasco sauce on the side.
* For the paprika, I used Hungary half sharp paprika which has a little "bite" to it, and for the Italian seasoning I used Pasta Sprinkle, both from Penzey's Spices: http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeyspaprika.html http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeyspastasprinkle.html
If there's a Penzey's near you, it's definitely worth the trip. If not, sign up to receive their catalogs. The catalogs always have some good recipes. http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html