Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rice & Beans: Two Old Friends

One of the best parts about being back home again has been cooking. I realized, once again this morning, as I basked in the glow of the yummy dinner we made last night for some neighbors, just how much joy it brings me to feed people. It must be that Guatemalan woman in me.

I may have
mentioned before that I ate my fair share of rice and beans while we were in Africa. We had rice & beans almost every meal for 4 weeks straight. As you can see in this picture, our food was lovingly prepared in a wheel (no, that's not a pot), and while they might have been higher in iron (yuk, yuk, yuk-- that joke was for you, Dad), they were definitely lacking in flavor.

Ironically, one of the "pieces of Africa" that I brought home with me was my appreciation for rice & beans. They're nutritious, cheap, yummy (when made right), easy to prepare, and can last you through the week. I've decided that every couple of weeks, I'm going to make a huge mass of rice & beans, and eat them for those busy weekday meals. They're the perfect microwave dinner =)

Every woman in my [Guatemalan] family has their own take on rice & beans. This is mine, born more out of a forgetfulness of how my mom always makes them than a creative cultural flare. Try some this week-- you'll be so glad you did!

Black Beans:
  • Quarter a large onion
  • Quarter a large bell pepper
  • Peel about 3 or 4 garlic cloves
  • Rinse a bag of dry black beans under water, checking for rocks or dirt
  • Throw all those ingredients into a crock pot & cover with lots of water and a fistful of salt
Cook until the beans are soft and most of the water has been absorbed, about 4-6 hours

The beauty of this "recipe" is that it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, makes more beans than you can shake a stick at, freezes really well (I usually freeze half), and you can prep it in the morning, leave for work, and come home to dinner! It works on a stove, as well-- just cook on low for several hours

  • Chop 1/2 an onion
  • Chop 1/2 to 3/4 bell pepper
  • Mince 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • Thinly slice about 1/4 cup carrots
Sautee all those ingredients on medium/high in olive oil until soft & fragrant.
  • Add 2 cups white rice, a little more olive oil, and sautee for a few more minutes, adding a tablespoon or so of chicken broth
  • Add 4 cups chicken broth and one diced chipotle in adobo (pictured, right) and salt
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10-20 minutes, fluffing once or twice, until rice is soft and liquid is absorbed. Salt to taste.

The rice is a little spicy, so if you want to tone it down, just put in 1/2 a chipotle pepper. It's amazing how flavorful this rice is, though-- it rivals risotto in taste & texture.

Serve the rice & beans with sauteed red peppers & onions, some sliced avocado, and a little crumbled cotija cheese & lime wedges (like I did in this [slightly blurry] photo!). You've just spent about $6 on food that will last you for weeks! Yum!
More recipes to come-- I've made so many delicious wonders this last week that I simply must share ;)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The beans will soften more easily if you add the salt at the end. I learned this from a gringa.