Black Beans "Menocal" Style


2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed thoroughly
6 quarts water
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
2 bay leaves
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar


Cook beans in water with bay leaves for 3 hours or until beans are soft. Add salt to taste. To Make the Sofrito: In a very hot skillet, add the olive oil then saute' the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Add the cumin, oregano and tomato paste. Add Sofrito to beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure the beans are soft enough (taste a few), then let pot cool down. Stick the beans (pot and all) into the refrigerator for at least 24 hours (no more than 3 days). This allows the flavors to really blend. Reheat gently (that means on a low flame). Add the sugar and vinegar right before you dish it out.