1 pound dried black beans, preferably turtle beans
6 cups cold water
2 small smoked ham hocks, about 1 1/4 pounds
1/2 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green peppers
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup dark rum
Cooked white rice

Onion relish for garnish:
2 white onions
white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar


1. Pick over the beans carefully and rinse well.  Put the beans in a bowl with the six cups of cold water. Cover and let stand overnight. Make sure you have enough water to cover well.

2. Drain the beans, reserving the water in which they soaked. Measure the water and add enough additional water to make eight cups.  Place the beans, water and ham hocks in a small kettle or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook over low heat, uncovered, skimming the surface as necessary to remove any foam. Stir and make sure beans are not burning or sticking. The beans should cook until tender, four to six hours.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions and green peppers. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is wilted. Add the garlic and cook briefly, stirring. After the beans have cooked about two hours, add the mixture to the beans. Add the bay leaves, pepper flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper.

4. When the beans are almost tender, add rum, uncover and continue cooking 30 minutes. Be vigilant at this stage, for you want the beans not too soupy, but you do not want to burn them.

5. While the beans cook, finely chop two white onions, and toss with about a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and a splash of white wine vinegar.  Set aside to garnish beans when served.

6. Remove the ham hocks. When they are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, fat, bones and gristle. Shred the meat and return it to the beans. Remove the bay leaves. Add the cayenne pepper and Tabasco. Serve with white rice and sour cream dollop.

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