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Cuban Black Beans and Rice Main

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Beans and rice are a staple food in many cultures throughout the world. And with good reason; it’s a very nutritious dish. Rice, of course, provides carbohydrates for energy as well as iron, vitamin B, and some protein. Beans provide even more iron and protein as well as fiber and calcium. Better still, together they are a complete protein dish, providing all of the amino acids that the human body cannot produce for itself. Best of all, both beans and rice are abundant and affordable for all.

Cuban beans and rice are often referred to as Moros y Cristianos, which translates to “Moors and Christians”. The name is a reference to Spanish history, specifically a period of Islamic rule over much of what is today Spain. This mix of cultures and religions had a profound impact on Spanish language and society, which can be found even in the former Spanish domains in the New World.

This dish differs from another Cuban beans and rice dish called congrí in that the beans and rice are cooked separately, then combined. For a boost of flavor, a classic Cuban sofrito is used with onions, bell peppers, oregano, and cumin. To add some meaty flavor as well, we’ve thrown in some salt pork. This dish is cooked mostly on the stovetop but finishes in the oven to ensure even heating from top to bottom.

Yield

Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 8 to 10 as a side dish.

Time to Make

At least 10 hours
and up to a day, 2 hours

Shopping List

  • 1 ounce table salt
  • 8 ounces dried black beans
  • 2 large green bell peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • 16 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 ounces salt pork lean or 6 slices bacon
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 10¾ ounces long grain white rice
  • 1 fluid ounce olive oil
  • ½ ounce ground cumin
  • 1 ounce red wine vinegar
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 lime

Equipment List

  • fine-mesh strainer
  • large bowl or large container
  • Dutch oven
  • garlic press
  • food processor
  • tongs
  • colander
  • large bowl
  • liquid measuring cup

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  • 1½ tablespoons table salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 cup dried black beans
  •  
  • large bowl or large container

Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl or container. Add the beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse well.


  • 2 large green bell peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head garlic
  •  
  • garlic press

While the beans are soaking, halve and seed the green peppers. Peel the onion and halve at the equator, leaving the root end intact. Remove 5 cloves from the head of garlic, peel them, and either mince them or press them in a garlic press. Set the prepared garlic aside and halve the remaining head of garlic at the equator, leaving the skin intact.


  • drained beans from step 1
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pepper half from step 2
  • 1 onion half (with the root end) from step 2
  • 1 halved garlic head from step 2
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  •  
  • Dutch oven
  • tongs
  • colander
  • large bowl
  • liquid measuring cup

In a large Dutch oven, stir together the beans, chicken broth, water, pepper half, onion half, halved garlic head, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce the 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 the beans in a colander set over a large bowl, reserving 2½ cups of the liquid. (If you don’t have enough cooking liquid, add water to equal 2½ cups.) Do not wash out the Dutch oven.


  • 6 ounces lean salt pork or 6 slices bacon
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1½ cups long grain white rice
  • 3 pepper halves from step 2
  • 1 onion half from step 2
  •  
  • fine-mesh strainer
  • food processor

While the beans cook, dice the salt pork or bacon into ¼-inch pieces and set aside. Remove the oregano leaves from the sprig, mince them finely, and set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place rice in a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1½ minutes. Shake strainer vigorously to remove all excess water; set rice aside.

Begin a sofrito by cutting the remaining peppers and onion into 2-inch pieces and placing them in the bowl of a food processor. Process the vegetables until they are broken down into roughly ¼-inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Set the vegetables aside.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces diced salt pork or diced bacon from step 4
  • prepared onions & peppers from step 4
  • 1 tablespoon prepared oregano from step 4
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • prepared garlic from step 2
  • rinsed rice from step 4

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the still-unwashed Dutch oven from step 3 and the salt pork (or bacon) and heat over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and rendered, 15 to 20 minutes (8 minutes if using bacon).

Prepare the sofrito by adding the remaining tablespoon of oil, prepared onions and peppers, oregano, and cumin to the pot. 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 the rice and stir to coat, about 30 seconds.


  • prepared beans from step 3
  • reserved bean cooking liquid from step 3
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 lime

Stir in beans, reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, and salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the rice is resting, slice the scallions thinly and cut the lime into 8 wedges. Serve, passing the scallions and lime wedges separately.