That’s Red Beans and Rice, for those of you who don’t know it. This recipe is the traditional Congri of Cuba:
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hour 20 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 pound dried small red beans
1 ham bone (shank end) with plenty of meat or 3 cups ham in chunks
5 cups water
1 cup red wine
4 strips bacon, chopped
Olive oil for sauteing
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 cups diced green bell pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 habanero pepper quartered
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups parboiled white rice
1. Cover the dried red beans with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil then remove beans from heat, cover and let them soak overnight.
2. The next day, drain the beans and cover them with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain.
3. While your beans are cooking, place your ham bone in a separate large pot with the water and wine and a pinch of salt. You may substitute 2 or 3 cups of ham if you don’t have a ham bone. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour. If using ham chunks, reduce this cooking time to about 30 minutes.
4. Remove the ham bone or ham chunks and reserve the liquid – this is your stock.
5. If you used a ham bone, remove all of the meat from the bone and break into small chunks.
6. Use a large, covered cooking pot. Begin by frying the bacon pieces in a little olive oil until they begin to crisp. Add the onion and green pepper and a little more oil and sauté until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and ham chunks and cook another 2 minutes.
7. Add the red beans, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, vinegar, habanero, salt, pepper, and 4 cups (measure exactly) of the stock you made when you cooked the ham (If you’re short on stock, add a little water to make up the difference.)
8. Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Add the rinsed rice and bring to a boil.
9. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook over low heat – stirring once or twice in the first 5 minutes only – about 30 to 45 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.
10. Remove the habanero pepper and the bay leaf. Adjust the seasonings to taste.