De luxe Moors and Christians

If you live in South Florida, eating black beans with rice (or "Moors and Christians") is like eating fish or seafood.

You can feel the Cuban influence in particular, and Latin American in general, on the Floridian table where moros y cristianos and maduros (ripe fried plantains) are a constant.
A few days ago, while on vacation in Key Largo, we had lobster and guess what: it came with Moors and Christians as a side dish.
I was surprised, but according to Maricel Presilla and her extraordinary book The Food of Latin America: Gran Cocina Latina, in Cuba, especially in the Western provinces, Moors and Christians are a dish for celebrations.
Maricel, who was born in Cuba and is a historian (in addition to an extraordinary cook), points that there is a Veracruzan version of this dish and considering that black beans were imported to Cuba from
Mexico, we don’t know which came first: the egg or the hen...
In any case, to make a feast for the senses out of something so simple and common as black beans with rice, I turned to Maricel’s recipe, which is what I’m sharing today.
I already told her about a true miracle: for the first time Andrés Ignacio (11) and Tomás Eugenio (9) ate black beans and what's better: both asked for more. Bingo!
Maricel's recipe suggests cooking the beans with a ham bone. I cooked them without it and I swear I hadn’t eaten Moors and Christians as tasty as these ones. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
Moors and Christians | Ingredients for 8 servings

Ingredients for the back beans
1/2 pound of black beans
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper
6 sweet peppers (ají dulce or cubanelle pepper)
1 ham hock (optional)

Preparation of the beans
Rinse and pick the beans.

In a pot with 2 ½ quarts of water, put the beans, onion, bell pepper, sweet peppers and ham hock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.

Drain the beans and reserve 4 cups of the liquid. Discard vegetables and bones.

Ingredients for the dish
2 cups of rice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 pound of slab bacon, diced
1 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup of green bell pepper, seeded, deveined, minced
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 tablespoon of dry sherry
2 teaspoons of salt

Put the rice in a colander and let the water run until it runs clear. Drain.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the bacon. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the onion, pepper, cumin, oregano and bay leaf and sauté until the onion wilts, about 5 minutes.

Add the rice and stir. Add the black beans and the reserved liquid.

Add the vinegar, sherry and salt. Cook uncovered until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed and small craters have formed on the surface.

Stir with a fork and reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, at least 10 minutes before serving.

To print the recipe click here.

How did you like this recipe? Do you usually have Moors and Christians?

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