I am a fan of black beans, but rarely cook them from scratch. However, they are so much better for you made from scratch, they just take a little extra time. When the beans are partially cooked, I like to add some extra stuff to make a delicious "stew" that is wonderful served over rice. Here is how I do it.
1 pound bag of dried black beans, cleaned and rinsed
Empty the bag of beans in a large dutch oven, picking out any debris or damaged beans. Rinse a couple of times with fresh water, then add enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches. Cook on high heat until they begin to boil, allow to boil for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and allow to sit about an hour. After the the hour, return to heat and bring up to a simmer and simmer about 1/2 an hour or until the beans are very tender.
Additions for the stew:
While the beans are sitting for their hour, take another dutch oven and heat some olive oil (a couple of tablespoons should be enough). Then lightly brown the following ingredients in sequence:
About 2 cups cubed ham
1 smoked sausage sliced into 1 inch lengths (Polish sausage works too)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, cored and diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Once all of the vegetables and meats are browned, add 2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes/4 cups fresh diced tomatoes and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. If you like a bit of heat you can either add a chopped jalapeno pepper with the vegetables when you saute them or add some crushed red pepper with the other spices. Simmer a few minutes, then add the vegetable and meat mixture to the beans when you simmer them for the last 30 minutes. Before serving, add salt to taste, but not while the beans are cooking as salt can toughen cooking beans. Serve over rice.