Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)
- SERVINGS: 8
In Veracruz, this ubiquitous dish goes by Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) and casamiento (marriage). The first name refers to the Moorish occupation of Spain; the second, to the union of Old World white rice and New world black beans.
- 1/2 pound dried black beans (1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons lard
- 3/4 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- In a large saucepan, combine the beans with 1 teaspoon of the oregano, 3 of the bay leaves and cold water to cover by 2 inches (about 10 cups) and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the beans are half cooked, about 35 minutes; the beans should be slightly chalky. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaves.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the lard in a large heavy casserole. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 15 minutes. Drain off all but 1/3 cup of fat from the casserole. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander and the remaining 1 teaspoon of oregano and 3 bay leaves. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring often, until the onion is softened and very fragrant, about 10 minutes.
- Add the rice to the casserole, stirring to thoroughly coat the grains with fat. Measure the reserved bean cooking liquid and, if necessary, add enough water to make 4 cups. Add the liquid to the casserole along with the cooked black beans. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes, or until the rice and beans are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Discard the bay leaves before serving.
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