I grew up in Miami, and one of our Saturday night staples was going to Habana Vieja Restaurant on Coral Way. This “upscale” Cuban restaurant was (and I say was because it sadly no longer exists) where we would go eat dishes that I thought had the funniest names; Vaca Frita (Fried Cow), Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes), Fufu con Masitas (Mashed plantain with pork chunks, and last but not least, Moros, or Moros y Cristianos. As a kid, I obviously was not aware of the deep historic meaning, and racial undertones, of the name of the dish. It literally translates to Arabs (moros) and Christians (cristianos). This has its roots in old Spain, which once, and still now to a degree, is a mixture of both cultures, as does most of the Cuban food we eat today.
All things aside, this is one of my favorite things to eat! Here in Spain there is a lot of white bean and lentil consuption….but only in cuban or other latin restaurants will you find the black or red pinto varieties. I miss my latin roots so much, and so does my daughter, that at least once a month I make beans and rice, and of course, the next day we mix them up and fry them up to serve alongside whatever we are eating….fish, chicken, beef, pork, you name it. Most of the time, we eat it on its own, since its so delicious and it really doesn’t need to be an accompaniment. I am sure you can find a million different recipes, but I hope you try mine, with a touch of roast red peppers and some sherry. Also, I think my mom’s white rice is pretty spectacular! To make a vegetarian version of these beans, just swap the beef bouillon cube for a vegetable one, and you have a perfectly well-balanced meal!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
For the beans:
2 cups black beans, soaked in water and salt overnight
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 large onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 large green pepper, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 small can of roast red peppers, minced
1/4 cup sherry
1 beef or vegetable bouillon cube
For the Rice:
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 tbsp onion, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp green pepper, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
3 cups water
To make the beans:
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, garlic and oregano, sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until translucent. Add the red pepper, sherry and bullion cube, and cook until the sherry has almost evaporated. Add the pre soaked beans, salt and enough water to cover them about 3 inches. Raise heat to high, cover leaving just a crack open so the steam can come out. When it boils, lower the heat to medium low, and let cook until the beans are tender and it has thickened into a stew consistency. About 2 hours. If you find that the water has evaporated and the beans aren’t tender enough, boil another cup of water and add it to the beans. Never add cold water because it will “stunt” the cooking of the beans.
In the mean time, prepare the rice. Wash the rice with cold water, and strain. In a medium stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and green pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, and add the rice, give it a good stir to coat the rice with the oil and veggies. Add the salt to the water, and stir it up, then add to your rice. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil and then lower to medium low, with the stock pot half covered like the beans. When the water is halfway evaporated, (about 10 minutes, you will see the top part of the rice to be dry-ish and hear water bubbling in the bottom) with a large wooden spoon, “turn” the rice so that the wetter rice is on top, and the dryer rice goes on the bottom. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the rice is dry. It will be kind of sticky, but don’t worry. Take off the heat, cover it and let it rest another 10 minutes, and before serving fluff it up with a fork.
When the beans are ready, you can either serve them with the rice on the side, or grab a cup of the rice, and add a spoonful of the beans, mix well. That is now Moros!
From my kitchen to yours,