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Cuban Black Beans and Rice
(and Black Bean Soup)

This recipe hadn't changed for years until recently when additional tinkering resulted in some worthy flavor upgrades.  I also wanted to have reserved cooking liquid in case I wanted to cook the rice in the liquid instead of serving with yellow rice.

1 cup dried black beans
6 cups water - divided
1 head garlic
2 medium green bell pepper
1 large onion (chopped)
1 medium ham hock, preferably smoked
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 medium bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the beans and place them in a large Dutch oven with 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoons of salt.  Allow to come to a boil for 2 minutes.  Cover and let stand for 1 hour then drain off the liquid, or you could soak the beans overnight.  Drain and rinse well.

Return the beans to the Dutch oven and stir together with the broth, remaining 2 cups of water, 1 pepper half, 1 onion half (with root end), halved garlic head,  ham hock,  bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce to low.  Cook until beans are soft, about 45 minutes.  Using tongs remove and discard the bell pepper, onion, garlic and bay leaves.  Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid if desired (see notes), and set aside   Do not rinse out the Dutch oven

Dice the remaining bell pepper and onion, chop any meat from the ham hock, mince the remaining garlic and set aside.  In the Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and add the onion, bell pepper and all spices.  Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently until veggies are softened and beginning to brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the mined garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Return the beans to the Dutch oven along with the vinegar and lime juice and stir to combine.  Add some of the reserved cooking liquid (see notes) and allow everything to heat through.

 Notes:

  1. Reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid can be used to cook the rice.  The flavors of the liquid will infuse the rice wonderfully.  The rice and beans may then be combined before serving, or  served separately as desired.

  2. Alternately this goes wonderfully with yellow rice.

  3. Use the cooking liquid to thin the cooked beans and mash some of the beans to thicken the liquid to the desired consistency

     

 

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