This is my secret recipe for Brazilian black beans and rice. I learned how to make it looking over the shoulder of many a Brazilian woman so I don't have exact quantities....they don't use them and I never learned how. So this is a recipe and a cultural lesson. I should also add that I lived in Rio Grande do Sul so I make southern-style beans and rice.
For the rice -
Chop an onion (medium to large based on the amount of people you need to feed). Fry it in a pan with some oil or butter until soft and lightly browned. If you want to add a few cloves of garlic, do so now and only cook for a minute. Add the raw rice and some salt. (To test for saltiness, stir the raw rice with the salt and onions then cool a small amount and place it in your mouth. If it tastes salty, you're good. If not, add a bit more salt.) Stir the rice around until the grains have turned a light brown color. Add the water, cover and reduce heat. Allow to cook for 20 to 30 minutes then check to see if liquid is absorbed. If not, cover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. If all the water is absorbed but the rice is still crunchy, add a bit of water, cover and cook until soft.
For my family of six, we use 2 to 4 cups of rice then twice the amount of water. So if I use 3 cups of rice I use 6 cups of water.
You could just cook the rice in a rice cooker, but the Brazilians I know rarely do this. Most of you reading this aren't Brazilian so do what you want!
For the black beans -
You can use either canned or homemade black beans. Start with cooked, however you get them. Chop an onion, medium to large and fry in oil or butter. Yep, do it again! Once the onion is soft and lightly browned add a garlic clove or two. Cook for one minute. Add the black beans and heat through, stirring every few minutes. Salt to taste. You can leave these thick or thin them out a bit by adding some water and mashing about half of them. Some people eat them thin like a gravy or sauce, others keep them looking like beans. You can alternately use garlic powder instead of the garlic cloves, and onion powder instead of the onion.
Most Brazilians use a pressure cooker for their beans, but I've never owned one so I use the stovetop method. If you do pressure cook your beans, and want an authentic flavor, add the cooked onions.
To eat it all -
We serve this with beans on the plate, rice on the side. Sometimes we put the beans on top of the rice like a gravy. Very often they will fry eggs and put it on top of the beans and rice....usually with a slightly runny yolk so it creates a type of sauce.
Often this is eaten with salted tomato slices or a tomato onion salad. To make the salada de tomate (tomato salad) slice an onion (yes, another one!!!) and place it in cold water. Let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes to take out some of the "bite". Drain. Add a sliced tomato or three, salt, then add a sprinkling of olive oil and vinegar. Taste it as you go. You want a salty, vinegary taste that doesn't overpower.
Another way to eat the beans is to put them over french fries, homemade if possible and usually with a fried egg on top of it all.