With much thanks to Cooking Illustrated, my wife found this recipe and declared it ‘to die for’. Lucky for me, because it truly was delicious! Thanks, wife! By the way, the base for this delicious dish is sofrito!
WHAT IS SOFRITO, you might ask? It serves as the fundamental flavor base for many Cuban dishes, including this one. The combination of onion, green pepper, and garlic (and often cumin and oregano) is a close relative of the French mirepoix, which features onion, carrot, and celery.
- 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 through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons), remaining head halved at equator with skin left intact
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 cups long grain white rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 ounces lean salt pork , cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 medium scallions , sliced thin
- 1 lime , cut into 8 wedges
Dissolve 1½ tablespoons salt in 2 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
In 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 teaspoon salt. Bring to 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 pepper, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Drain beans in colander set over large bowl, reserving 2½ cups bean cooking liquid. (If you don’t have enough bean cooking liquid, add water to equal 2½ cups.) Do not wash out Dutch oven; you want to mix the flavors up between the sofrito, the beans, and the rice.
Put your oven rack to middle position and set to 350 degrees. Place rice in large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear, about 1½ minutes.
Remove all excess water; set rice aside.
Cut remaining peppers and onion into 2-inch pieces and process in food processor until broken into rough ¼-inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary; set vegetables aside.
In now-empty Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil and salt pork over medium-low heat; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and rendered, 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides as you stir this to get the flavors to all meld together. Add remaining tablespoon oil, chopped peppers and onion, oregano, and cumin. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. 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 ½ teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to 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, passing scallion and lime wedges separately.
Thanks, Cooks Illustrated!