Soak beans overnight to soften and remove any small hard stones. The next day, strain and rinse soaked beans with fresh water.
To cook beans, place in a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Carefully smash whole garlic cloves with the back of a knife and add to the pot of beans along with 2 of the bay leaves.
Bring the pot to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender (90 minutes or up to two hours.) Set aside once cooked.
Preparing the rice and vegetables
Next, in a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions, peppers, and garlic. Add spices (salt through cayenne) and continue stirring until vegetables have softened, 4-6 minutes.
Rince rice in a strainer until the water comes out clear
Stir in rinsed (uncooked) rice and sauté for 2 minutes so that the rice starts to toast and lightly brown.
Pour in chicken broth and add reserved, cooked black beans along with bay leaves. Stir once then bring to a boil. Stir a second time then reduce heat to low and place a tightly fitting lid on the pot. Cook until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Use a fork to loosen the rice and bean mixture then serve with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.