Skip this soaking step if you're using canned or frozen beans.Place the sorted beans into a strainer then them under cold running water to remove any dirt.Transfer the beans into a large dutch oven (the same pot you'll cook them in) and cover them with 4" of cold water. Cover the pot and allow the beans to soak, in the refrigerator, for 8-12 hours. Avoid soaking the beans longer than 12 hours as they may split from over-saturation.
After the beans have soaked, drain then rinse the beans under cold running water. Allow the beans to drain in your strainer while you prepare the sofrito.
Quick Soak (1 hour) Method
Place the sorted and rinsed beans in a large dutch oven and cover them with 2" of cold water.Cover the pot, and bring the water up to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the water to boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner, then allow the beans to soak for 1 hour (pot covered). Strain the soaking water, but save it for cooking the beans in- this only applies to the quick soak method's water.
Prepare the Sofrito
In the rinsed and dried dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, bell pepper, and minced garlic to the pot. Sauté the aromatics, stirring often, until they become glossy and begin to take on color- about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and the recao to the pot and sauté these together- stirring frequently- until the veggies begin to break down and form a thick paste. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
With the heat still on medium-high, stir in the Ádobo, Sazón, oregano, black pepper, bay leaves, olives, and capers. Simmer these ingredients together, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Add the Beans and Meat, then Simmer
Stir the soaked (or drained, canned**) beans into the sofrito. Add the meat (if you're using any) to the pot. Add the water to the pot and stir everything together. If you've used thequick soak method: add enough fresh water to the reserved soaking liquid to equal 6 cups. **If you are using canned beans: strain the liquid from the canned beans and add enough cold water to that liquid to equal 3 cups.
Bring the water up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the beans and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Add the Potatoes
After simmering for an hour and a half, stir the sliced potatoes into the beans. Continue to simmer the beans for an additional 30 minutes, or until both, the potatoes and the beans, are tender.
Taste the beans and broth and adjust the seasoning as needed with more Ádobo. Use a light hand when adding more salt, though, as the flavors will deepen as the beans sit.
Kidney, cannellini, black eyed peas, chickpeas, or pinto beans may all be used in this recipe in place of black beans. A note about canned beans: because canned beans are precooked (through the canning process) they will only require half the amount of liquid to make this recipe. * For vegetarian beans: omit the meat and replace the water with vegetable stock to obtain the most flavor.Freezing Instructions:
Allow the prepared habichuelas guisadas to cool completely.
Transfer the beans to a freezer storage bag. Squeeze out any excess air from the bag, then tightly seal it.
Lay the bags of beans flat- lay the bags on a sheet pan in the freezer- and freeze until solid.
Once frozen, standing the bags up, or stacking them, will save space. Flatten bags also allow for faster thawing.
Thaw frozen beans in the fridge before reheating on the stove or in a microwave until piping hot.