Rice and beans are synonymous with Latin American and Caribbean food culture. Depending where on the globe you are, they are referred to as arroz y habas, arroz con habichuelas, arroz con frijoles, gallo pinto, recalentao, congri, moros y cristianos, arroz con gandules or arroz e feijão. Different regions have different preferences. In Puerto Rico, for example, pigeon peas are more commonly used than black beans.
Cubans make two styles of rice and beans: congri(red beans and rice) and moros y cristianos(black beans and rice). It’s no secret I really don’t like black beans all that much. Now that I’m older with a more refined palate, I don’t mind them, but I won’t make them for myself. As if pouring black bean soup over perfectly steamed white rice wasn’t bad enough, making them together takes it to a whole new level of NO for me. This means moros are out of the picture for me except for one person.
One of my oldest friend’s grandmother makes the best moros ever and hers are the only ones I will eat. I haven’t had them in a few years but the last time I did, I hovered around her as she made them. She didn’t give me an exact recipe, per se. Like many Cuban abuelas, she just throws ingredients together and magic is made. I scribbled down her recipe on a scrap of paper and managed to not lose it after all this time.
If you have a different way of making them, or if I missed something, please let me know below. Also let me know if you make this dish. Would love to hear how it turned out!
- 1/2 lb of black beans
- 5 c water
- 2 green peppers
- 1/2 lb salt pork
- 1/2 lb onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1 lb rice
- 2 oz bacon
- Rinse beans and place in a large pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2". Slice and seed a green pepper and throw into the pot. Let beans soak overnight or at least a few hours.
- Cook beans in the same water over med-low heat until they are soft, approx 45 minutes. When they are done, remove three cups of water and set aside, then drain the rest of the beans in a colander and set aside.
- Cut up the salt pork into small pieces and fry in the large pot until cooked thoroughly - do not drain.
- Add the onions, garlic and green pepper to the pan and saute until onions are soft,
- Add the beans, three cups of water, bay leaf and oregano and bring to a boil.
- Dice the bacon and fry in a pan, add the rice and saute together for a few seconds until the rice is coated/mixed with the bacon.
- When the water starts to boil, add the rice and bacon to the pot, stir, and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit an additional 5 minutes.
- This can also be made with red beans to make congri.