Lucy’s got some ‘splainin to do February 6, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Illustrated, Homemade.
Yeah, sorry, but it was either an I Love Lucy reference or some joke about a cigar. And honestly, I have yet to hear a joke about a cigar that’s not in poor taste, Freud notwithstanding.
Clearly I know nothing about Cuban culture, other than Ricky Ricardo and Cuban cigars. Oh, wait, there’s Castro, but, well, he’s no fun.
Where was I?
Beans and rice. Rice and beans. The ultimate in poverty meals, and, honestly, often kind of boring, huh?
I mean, what?, you cook some rice, open a can of beans, and maybe throw some cumin in there, and there you go.
Clearly I have no idea how beans and rice are made – I’ve never actually done it. I had to check with Peeps to see how he does it.
So. I was walking the dog other day, listening to the America’s Test Kitchen podcast, and they were talking about their Cuban beans and rice.
Now I don’t know about you, but if there’s anyone on this earth more, I don’t know, “white-bread” than I am, it’s got to be Christopher Kimball.
I mean. . . well, you know what I mean. There’s not an awful lot of Latin fire going on there, is there? Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy to pieces, but I just see him more as a roast beef and mashed potato sort than, well black beans and rice, you know?
But you know what? He RAVED about it! And yes, I know that that’s kind of what he’s supposed to do, well, I tend to believe him.
Especially at 5:30 in the morning, when I haven’t had breakfast yet, and it’s about 12 degrees and windy, with a couple of inches of snow. I think my exact thought at that moment was “I am SO making that!”
And make it I did.
I’m not going to go into excruciating detail (if it’s not already too late!) – the recipe is available through the ATK Radio program’s site right here - though you will need to create an “account” – it’s free, and all you have to give up is your email address.
I really pretty much followed the recipe as written, with a couple of exceptions.
I didn’t use sweet green peppers – I had some poblanos in the freezer, so I used those.
Instead of the salt pork called for, I used bacon.
Again, I have tons of the stuff in the freezer, and a little smoke is definitely good thing – in pork, anyway.
I do want to take a second, though, and mention the rinsing the rice step. I’ve done that for a couple of different recipes, and, while it’s most definitely a pain in the neck, WOW what a difference it makes!
Just your basic, long-grain white rice, rinsed (and rinsed, and rinsed some more!), and you end up with nicely separate, well-defined grains, rather than sticky, clumpy rice blobs.
I’m going to be honest here – I don’ necessarily hate the clumpy rice blobs, either.
Oh, and the recipe called for fresh oregano. I’m assuming that, if they’d thought about it, they would have specified Mexican (or even Cuban) oregano. (Yes, I’ve seen Cuban oregano plants – who knew?)
However, all I have in the garden is Greek oregano, and that was a little,well, a bit frosty.
It still worked, though. I’d imagine that about 1/3 of the amount of dried oregano would work too, in a pinch.
What I love about this dish, well, actually there were a few things.
I love using dried beans – dried beans just taste better and have a better texture than canned, and that’s all there is to it.
I loved that it’s made with stuff that’s just lying around anyway – who doesn’t have some rice, a couple of onions, some stray bacon (or not - there’s a vegetarian variation, too!) and, if you’re wise, a bag of beans?
We’re talking MAYBE having to pick up a green pepper (unless you, too, cram whatever you can in the freezer for “later”).
Plus it makes a LOT!
I am SO making this again!
We had it for dinner one night.
We each ate some for lunch a couple more times.
I shared some (along with the recipe) with a friend.
I’m already thinking of swapping out the black beans for red beans, just to see how that’ll work out.
I’m considering investing in a Cuban oregano plant for the herb garden. . .