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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. 1/2 pound dried black beans (1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
  2. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  3. 6 bay leaves
  4. 2 tablespoons lard
  5. 3/4 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  6. 1 white onion, finely chopped
  7. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  8. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  9. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  10. 2 cups long-grain rice
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Notes This blend of dark beans and white rice gets its name from the wars between the Moors (dark-skinned Muslims) and the Spaniards (light-skinned Christians). This dish is common in Cuba and Mexico.