I thought I knew rice and beans. I served them a lot. They were the meal that stretched the budget much further while filling you up. I had them a lot growing up, and I served them often to my little family. There are many ways to have them, but the basics is garlic-y beans mixed with rice. They were far from our favorite genre of foods, but they worked.
Then I had Haitian Rice and Beans at a friend’s house who had lived in Haiti for a bit. It was unlike any version of rice and beans I had ever had. The beans were pureed into a thick sauce that was poured over rice. And instead of just the beans ans rice, there were layers of flavor with a red sauce and Pikliz (haitian pickled vegetables). It set a new standard for how rice and beans should taste– really good, not just healthy and frugal.
Over the last few years I have made this dish numerous times, but it was never quite right. Then I had a brilliant idea. I asked my friend, Kyle, who served them, how to make them. (duh, right?) I now live in a different state from when I first had this deliciousness, so it was through e-mail, and I hope I got it right. Either way, with the three year old memory and the basics lined out in an e-mail, I made it and the entire family inhaled it (the kid’s dish did not have sliced jalepenos). The kids told me numerous times “Good job making this Mom!” “Yeah. It is yummy!” Mark, who is not fond of rice and beans, even liked it.
This is a little more involved then my average rice and beans dish, but is worth the extra bit of time for those delicious layers of flavor.
- For the bean sauce:
- 3 cups dried pinto beans
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 white onion
- 1 jalapeno
- Chicken stock (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- For serving:
- Red sauce (recipe below)
- 6 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
- Pikliz, you can use a traditional recipe like this, but the heat level (4-6 scotch peppers???) scares me... so I have my non-traditional less spicy version below.
- Soak the dried beans overnight, or up to 24 hours. Drain, and cover well with water. I usually have water that it is 1½ to two times the depth of the soaked beans. Peel and cut the ends off the onion put it in with the beans. Seed the bell pepper and jalapeno and put that in as well. Simmer uncovered until the beans are soft (about 1 - 1½ hours). Add more water during cooking if need be.
- Let the softened beans cool enough to go through a food processor. Scoop the beans, peppers, and onion out of the cooking liquid into the food processor. Puree until smooth. Add enough of the cooking liquid and/or chicken stock to make a thick sauce (I added about a cup I think).
- If there is more cooking liquid left, pour it out (or set aside in case you need to thin the sauce later). Put the pureed beans back into the pot. Stir in the cloves, garlic, and olive oil. Add salt to taste (I did at least a few teaspoons). Cut a few rings from the second bell pepper and put that into the beans. Save the rest of the bell pepper for the red sauce. Let simmer until ready to serve, thinning out more if needed.
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 head garlic, each clove peeled, crushed, and roughly chopped
- Chopped bell pepper (left over from making the bean sauce)
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne (optional)
- Chicken stock or water
- In a large skillet heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to get tender. Add the onion and cook while stirring a few minutes more. Add the bell pepper, and cayenne if using, and cook another minute or two. Add the tomato paste and stir it all together. Cook in the oil for a bit to add more flavor to the paste.
- Thin with water or chicken stock. It took 1-2 cups to get a consistency I liked.
- ½ head cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper (I used yellow) chopped
- 3 carrots, grated
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground black peppers
- Juice from a lime
- White vinegar (about two cups)
- Mix everything but the white vinegar together. Stuff into a quart size jar. Cover with vinegar. For best results make this at least 24 hours in advance.