beans & rice




This is a recipe that my husband convinced me to try a few years ago. The first few times you make it, you'll feel like "sheesh, there are a lot of steps," especially if you're trying to make it during your baby's nap and your toddler's non-nap. But, the more you make it, the easier it gets. And, before you know it, you'll be making this on a weeknight, no problem. It's not that any of the steps are difficult or tricky... there's just a few steps that can't be skipped. Soaking the beans, rinsing the rice, chopping the veggies, etc. It takes some planning, but, I promise you, it's worth it. Hang in there.

I've adapted this from America's Test Kitchen which is typically foolproof. If you're vegetarian, you could adapt this further by using veggie stock and omitting the bacon. (My kids might drop their jaws in shock that anyone would want to "skip the bacon," but you know... you be you.)

A few quick notes on ingredients for those of you with Celiac. When my son was first diagnosed, we immediately bought a rice cooker because we heard you'll eat a lot more rice when you're GF. In retrospect, yeah.... maybe. We do eat a lot of rice and I love our rice cooker, but we also eat just as much pasta as ever. In any case, in cooking more rice, we did discover Lundberg Farms. It is, hands down, the best rice you can buy. Sure, there are probably places you can order small fancy-pants batches of rice, but you can easily find Lundberg in most grocery stores and their short-grain brown rice (not what you need for this recipe) is the nuttiest and most delicious brown rice I've ever had. So, point being, I highly recommend using Lundberg Farms rice for this recipe.

Finally, Da Beans. If you have Celiac or are cooking for someone with Celiac, you might have been frustrated by the warnings on most dry beans in the store. Goya and the like typically warn consumers that the beans were "processed in a facility where barley is also present,"  thereby making their beans "not safe" for a gluten-free diet. Enter Rancho Gordo to the rescue. Not only is Rancho Gordo a really cool company bringing back heirloom varieties of beans that you've never heard of, but they also are only bean growers, aka no barley and no chance of cross-contamination. Yes, the beans cost more than Goya and yes, you do have to order them online, BUT, these are The. Best. Beans. Check them out. You won't be sorry.

So, let's get to the recipe!

Beans & Rice, (serves 4-6 grown-ups as a main course)

  • 1 cup dry black beans (you can use another color bean if you want, I've done this with red, too)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 large green peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 8-10 slices bacon
  • 4 tsps ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 TBSPs red wine vinegar
  • avocado, fried egg, lime, cilantro, hot sauce as garnishes, to taste

Soak 1 cup dried black beans in a big pot with water and a few generous pinches of salt. Let beans sit in salt water overnight (8-24 hours).

Drain & return beans to the now empty pot. Add chicken broth, water, bottom half of one of the green peppers, root half of the onion (peeled), half of the garlic head (not-peeled), bay leaves, and 1 tsp salt to the pot as well. Bring pot to a simmer over medium-high heat before covering and reducing the heat to low. Let pot simmer covered for 30-35 minutes until the beans are tender, but not fall-apart soft. There should still be some "bite" to the beans.

While the pot is simmering, prep the rest of your ingredients. Dice the remaining 1.5 green peppers and half onion. (If you're cooking for picky children, feel free to run the veggies through your Cuisinart until they're nearly mush.) Press the remaining garlic cloves. Slice bacon into 1/4" pieces and rinse rice in a fine sieve (gotta love my chinois... I think I use it nearly all the recipes on this blog!) until the water runs clear.

After about 30 minutes or once the beans have softened, remove & discard the bay leaves, onion, garlic, & pepper. Drain the beans SAVING 2.5 CUPS OF THE BEAN COOKING LIQUID. This is very important-- that bean cooking liquid is liquid gold and what makes this dish so delicious. You should finish with about 2.5 cups of the bean cooking liquid. If you have less, add enough chicken stock to the liquid to equal 2.5 cups. If you have more, great!... but you'll only need 2.5 cups for the rest of the dish.

Add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil & sliced bacon to the now empty pot. Saute until lightly browned. If you end up with too much oil, feel free to drain some out as you're sauteing, but do keep some in because veggies are coming next. Add chopped peppers, onion, cumin & oregano to the browned bacon. Saute on medium until veggies are softened, approx. 10-15 minutes. While the veggies are browning, move your oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add minced garlic to the pot and stir. After about one minute, add rinsed and drained rice and stir to coat, approx 30 seconds. Add drained beans to the pot, 2.5 cups of reserved bean cooking liquid, red wine vinegar, and a small pinch of salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring entire pot to a low boil/simmer. Stir.

Place a large piece of tin foil over the top of your pot and place the pot's lid on top of the foil. Curl edges of tin foil up over pot's lid to form a tight seal. Place pot in preheated oven and let cook approx. 25-30 minutes. After about 30 minutes, the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be fully-cooked. Fluff with a fork and let it rest uncovered 5-10 minutes before serving. 

If you're making this ahead, still fluff and let beans & rice cool completely before recovering. Cover pot and reheat in the oven until heated through. (Or microwave your own serving... that's what microwaves are for after all.) Serve with avocado, lime wedges, cilantro, hot sauce or a fried egg.