Preparation / Directions:
Place beans in a bowl. Cover with cold water by 2 inches, add thyme and let soak overnight, at least 4 hours.
Heat a heavy 2- to 3-quart casserole. Add oil.
Sautee onion and carrot for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent and carrot soft. Add jalapeno pepper, garlic and cumin seeds, and cook a few minutes longer.
Preheat oven to 300F.
Drain beans, and add to the casserole, together with tomatoes, syrup, brown sugar, bay leaf, orange rind, peppercorns, cilantro, and water or stock.
Cover, and bring to a slow simmer. Place casserole in oven, and cook for 1 hour. Add vinegar and salt.
Cook 1 hour longer, until liquid has been absorbed, but the beans are still moist. Adjust seasoning - salt and pepper, and up to 2 more T vinegar.
Garnish with additional cilantro.
(1) I generally use white kidney beans. Using all white beans gives a pleasing uniform color to the dish. Just about any combination of dried beans can be used.
(2) Or, 1 heaping tablespoon of dried thyme. Just be sure to rinse it off completely.
(3) Or, to suit your tolerance. I find that the peppers provide more of an undercurrent of heat than an outright fire, and so, too much is probably not a good idea in this dish. The hot pepper should act as a foil to the other sweet and sour components, not as an overpowering taste in itself.
(4) To toast cumin seed, heat a small saucepan, add the cumin and heat, shaking the pan, until the seeds begin to dance (pop) and smell toasty.
(5) I've made this recipe also in a crock pot and slow cooker with the same results. It takes considerably more time to cook, so adjust the times accordingly. Make sure the beans cook long enough to become tender