A Spanish Side: Moros y Cristianos

Moros y Cristianos, or black beans and rice, is a classic Cuban dish. The name literally translates to Moors and Christians, the “Moors” being the black beans and the “Christians” being the white rice. The name of the dish is a reference to the battle that began in eighth century Spain, between the Christians and Muslims. Spain has had a huge influence on the food and culture of Cuba.

This dish goes great with many beef, pork, poultry and seafood dishes. It’s a simple, one-pot meal that takes just 20 minutes to prepare.

Moros y Cristianos

Black Beans and Rice

What You’ll Need:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 ounces slab bacon, rind removed, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium size green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 15-ounce cans black beans
2 cups long grain rice
4 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the bacon for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook until all the water has been absorbed and small craters form over the surface of the rice. Stir with a fork (using a spoon will result in mushy rice), cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the rice is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Please refrain from lifting the lid before then, which will only allow your steam to escape and lengthen the cooking time. Discard the bay leaf. Serve and enjoy!

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Game Day Chili

Chili can be a very debatable subject among aficionados. Beef or pork? Beans or bean-less? Green or red? I know several people who claim theirs is the best. I certainly don’t claim to make the best, but I sure do make some darn good chili!

Chili originated in the late 1800’s in San Antonio, Texas. Hispanic women would gather in public places and sell bowls of chili to passersby. Cattle were cheap and plentiful in San Antonio, so chili was often made with beef. As the years went by, chili parlors opened up throughout Texas. Soon, the craze expanded to nearby states. Since beef wasn’t as abundant or inexpensive in other regions of the United States, people started adding beans to their chili, to act as a “filler.” So, as it turns out, the original chili did NOT include beans. Well, I have nothing against beans, so they make an appearance in my chili. More fiber, right?

For this recipe, I use a blend of ground beef and pork. I asked my brother, a butcher, to grind some chuck. I prefer chuck because it has a great balance of meat and fat. Fat is essential for lots of flavor. For ground pork, I use boneless pork loin. The combination of beef and pork, along with some smoky bacon, makes for a hearty, satisfying chili.

Game Day Chili

The Butcher’s Daughter original recipe

 

What You’ll Need:

olive oil
½ pound bacon, diced
1 pound ground pork (recommended: pork loin)
1 pound ground beef (recommended: chuck)
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water
¼ cup brewed coffee
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
grated cheddar cheese, for serving

Cook bacon in a 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over medium to high heat, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pot and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pot! This is valuable stuff!

Add the diced onion and green pepper to the pot, using the bacon fat to cook the vegetables until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the vegetables and set aside. If the vegetables have absorbed all the bacon fat, add some olive oil to the bottom of the pot. Add the ground pork and beef and sauté until brown. Return the onion and bell pepper to the pot. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Cook for about a minute. Return the bacon to the pot. Add the tomato paste to the mixture, making sure to blend it well throughout the meat. Add the crushed tomatoes, coffee, and water, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the kidney beans. Cook the chili for about 2 to 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Ladle chili into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese before serving. Enjoy!

A Taste of Home

It’s been a while since my first entry. I haven’t lost interest or my passion for cooking, it’s just been hard find time to LEARN to  blog. Honestly, this entire process is new to me. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing how to do something. I’m not tech-savvy, so using WordPress is similar to me learning a new language. Funny enough, during a recent visit to the library, I came across WordPress for Dummies. It was like a sign! I immediately headed to the checkout desk and trotted home with my latest find. Now, I haven’t actually had time to open the book, but I’m sure the day will come. Until then, I’ve been cooking up a storm and wanted to share my latest meal.

When I want comfort food, you know, the type of food that warms you up, fills your belly and makes you want to curl up on the sofa because you’re so full, I usually turn to one of two ingredients: potatoes or rice. Today, it was the latter. I decided to cook up a taste of home and reached down to my Spanish roots. Tonight’s menu consisted of yellow rice, pink beans and roasted pork shoulder with mojo, a delicious garlic sauce. If you’re a fan of garlic, like I am, you’ll want to make this sauce again and again!

Yellow Rice

Arroz Amarillo

Adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (preferably Goya brand)

1 packet Sazon Goya with Coriander and Annatto

2 tablespoons Goya Sofrito Tomato Cooking Base

2 cups raw extra long-grain white rice (preferably Carolina brand)

4 cups water

In a medium-size saucepan over low heat, heat the oil until fragrant, and then add the Sazon and Sofrito. Heat for about one minute. Add the rice, water and tomato sauce, then raise the heat to high. Cook, uncovered, until all the water has been absorbed and small craters appear on top of the rice, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir with a fork, cover, and cook until the rice is dry and fluffy, 10 minutes.

Pink Beans

Habichuelas Rosadas

1 can (15.5 oz) Goya Pink Beans

2 tablespoons Goya Sofrito Tomato Cooking Base

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (preferably Goya brand)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 packets Goya Sazon with Coriander and Annatto

½ cup water

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Roasted Pork Shoulder

Pernil

Adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman

One 8 pound leg or shoulder of pork

10 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup Goya Naranja Agria, Bitter Orange Marinade or ¼ cup orange juice combined with 1/8 cup each fresh lime and lemon juice

½ cup dry sherry

The night before cooking, pierce the meat all over with a large knife. In a mortar, combine the garlic, oregano, salt, and cumin, and mash into a paste. Rub the paste well onto the pork, making sure to put some in the slits of the meat. Place the pork into a large pan or plastic bag, whatever you will be using to keep the meat in overnight.  Add the Naranja Agria and sherry, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the meat from the marinade and place in a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes, uncovered. Then, cover the pork and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cook for another four hours. During the last 15 minutes, uncover the pork so the skin will develop a crunchy texture. When it is done, remove the pork from the oven and allow it to sit, covered with foil, 15 minutes before carving. Serve with Mojo.

Mojo

Garlic Sauce

10 gloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons Goya Naranja Agria, Bitter Orange Marinade or ¼ cup orange juice combined with 1/8 cup each fresh lime and lemon juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small food processor, pulse the garlic and salt until it forms a paste. Slowly add the Naranja Agria, then the olive oil, processing until smooth. This delicious sauce will keep about one week refrigerated, although I doubt it will last that long!