We usually start the new year with black-eyed peas of some sort, but this year I decided to mix it up when I saw America’s Test Kitchen’s black beans and rice recipe. I absolutely love their recipes and the food science information they usually include. This recipe is made fabulous by enriching the beans through flavorful cooking broth, rinsing the rice to wash away excess starch and limit the sticky rice factor, and developing flavor with a sofrito and rendered pork. Begin the new year with a big bowl of tasty and auspicious beans and rice, a full belly, and many smiles …
Wishing you and yours a wonderful start to 2014! Enjoy 🙂
Recipe notes: You will need a Dutch oven or other oven-proof pot for this recipe. My grocer was out of salt pork so I substituted thick-cut bacon; if you can find salt pork make sure you get lean (not fatty) salt pork. For a vegetarian version, use water or veggie broth, omit the salt pork, add 1 tbsp. of tomato paste with the vegetables in step 5, and increase salt to taste.
- 1 cup dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 large green bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 1 large onion, halved at equator and peeled, root end left intact
- 1 head garlic, 5 medium cloves removed and minced or pressed, remaining head halved at equator with skin left intact
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 and 1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 6 ounces lean salt pork (or 6 pieces of bacon) cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh oregano leaves
- 4 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Scallions, lime, and tomato for garnishes (optional)
- Dissolve 1 and 1/2 tbsp. salt in 2 quarts of cold water in a large bowl. Add beans and soak at room temp for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
- In a large dutch oven with tight-fitting lid, stir together drained beans, broth, water, 1 pepper half, 1 onion half (with root end), halved garlic head, bay leaves, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until beans are just soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Using tongs, remove and discard the pepper, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Drain beans in a colander set over a large bowl, reserving 2 and 1/2 cups bean cooking liquid. (If you don’t have enough liquid, add water to equal 2 and 1/2 cups). I used a ladle to scoop the beans and liquid into the colander and that helped me pick out any remaining garlic and peel. Do not wash out dutch oven.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place rice in a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear, about 1-2 minutes. Shake strainer vigorously to remove all excess water; set rice aside.
- Dice remaining peppers and onion by hand or using a food processor. Set vegetables aside.
- In now-empty Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. oil and salt pork or bacon over medium heat; cook, stirring frequently until light brown and rendered (about 15 mins for salt pork, and 10 for bacon). Add remaining tbsp. oil, chopped vegetables, oregano and cumin. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 10 minutes more. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in beans, reserved bean cooking liquid, vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff with fork and let rest, uncovered, 5 minutes. Serve with scallions, lime, and fresh tomato if desired.