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Recipe: Moros y Cristianos

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My family is very fond of this dish, which is simply black beans and white rice cooked up together with a bunch of Latin spices. We have served it on many holidays, and have decided to include it on Easter brunch menu this year. Growing up, I didn't much care for the mishmash of flavors, and would insist on having the rice and beans segregated. I've since grown to love it, and often implore my mother to make it when I'm craving some comfort food.

My family has always referred to it as congrí, and it wasn't until very recently that I discovered that in the past, Cubans from Oriente did not eat black beans but rather enjoyed red beans in this dish with rice. Though my family insists on fighting history and referring to black beans and white rice as congrí, every Cuban restaurant I've been to around Houston refers to my now beloved congrí as Moros y Cristianos, so the mystery remains largely unsolved.

Regardless, it works great as a side dish to cordero andaluz (Andalucian lamb). It also holds it own as a main dish with a loaf of crusty Cuban bread and a tomato and avocado salad. If you're looking for a Nuevo-traditional Latin meal to serve this Easter or anytime you want to please your guests, try this dish.

The recipe, after the jump.

Moros y Cristianos

10 servings

  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 large white onions, diced
  • 4 peeled garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups short-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Rinse the beans in cold water. Place them in a large pot with 9 cups of water and soak for 8-12 hours. Add the green pepper and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour, or until tender.

    Strain the beans over a measuring cup, retaining about 4 cups of liquid (add water if you need to). Sauté the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the salt, pepper, oregano and cumin, cooking for an additional minute.

    Combine the veggie mixture, rice, and 4 cups of bean liquid in the pot you used to cook the beans. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, and cook until the rice is al dente (about 20 minutes).

    Add in the beans, return to a simmer, and cook about 10 more minutes. Top it with the remaining olive oil and a bit of chopped fresh cilantro, fluff it all up, and serve.

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