Recipes

Recipe: Cuban Style Black Beans and Rice

by Jessie Beyer - Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cuban Style Black Beans and Rice

Black beans and rice is a staple dish in Cuban cuisine. Depending where in Cuba you find yourself, you’ll taste regional twists on this traditional recipe. This particular recipe comes from Cuban-born Eduardo Muchado’s memoir, Tastes Like Cuba, which is filled with Cuban recipes as he chronicles his life as an exile and a revealing visit to his home in Cuba.

Ingredients

1 ½ green peppers, stemmed and seeded
10 garlic cloves
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over to remove any stones
1 smoked ham hock
2 bay leaves
5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
¼ cup olive oil
4 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 jalapeño, stemmed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon turbinado or other brown sugar

Directions
1.  Cut 1 green pepper into 1-inch squares. Smash and peel 4 of the garlic cloves. Put the green pepper and garlic into a large pot with the beans, ham hock, bay leaves and 1 tablespoon salt. Add 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the beans are tender, an hour or more.

2. Meanwhile, make a sofrito. Cut the remaining ½ green pepper into ¼-inch dice. Peel and finely chop the remaining garlic. Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño (leave out the seeds if you don’t want it too spicy), oregano, cumin, black pepper and 2 teaspoons salt and stir for another minute. Pour in the vinegar and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. This is your sofrito.

3. When the beans are cooked, discard the bay leaf. Remove and set aside the ham hock and let it cool. Transfer 1 cup of beans to small bowl, mash them into a paste with the back of a fork and return to the pot. Add the sofrito, then the sugar. Pull the meat from the ham hock, leaving behind any white sinew or gristle. Chop the ham into ½-inch pieces and return it to the bean pot.

4. Stir the beans well and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so, skimming any foam from the top. Taste for salt and serve with white rice.

Jessie Beyer - Originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Jessie headed west for college and never looked back. She earned a Journalism and Technical Communications degree from Colorado State University, and has since worked in a variety of industries including radio, sustainability, and wine tourism. Jessie combines her passion for travel, cycling, and storytelling to help people understand the unique power of exploring the world from the seat of a bike. A self-proclaimed travel junkie, Jessie has found herself on many extended adventures. She spent 2015 exploring many corners of the world including tramping through New Zealand's mountains, cycling through Europe, and hitching a boat ride down the Mekong river from Laos into Thailand. At home in Colorado you'll likely find her singing her way up mountain trails, talking to strangers, and seeking restaurants with patios and Spanish wines.