1 pound black beans, washed
7 cups water
1 cup diced fully cooked lean ham
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers*
Place beans in a Dutch oven or soup kettle; add water to cover by 2 in. Bring to a boil; for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans, discarding liquid.
Return to the pan. Add 7 cups water, ham, garlic, pepper, cumin, salt, bay leaf and liquid smoke if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring broth and rice to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Just before serving, discard bay leaf from bean mixture; add vinegar and oil. Serve over rice. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 tablespoon red pepper and 1 teaspoon jalapenos.