Friday, July 3, 2009

Mole-Inspired Black Beans and Rice

Beans & Rice is my go-to weekday meal. I discovered it as dorm food. I previously had no idea those to things together could be a complete meal but there was nothing better after a stomach-roiling night. It's rather homely-looking, but it's just so good! I'm still unlikely to eat the lard-based refried beans and white rice that come as standard plate components at Tex-Mex joints... but sometimes I forget myself in their presence.
If I'm feeling lazy and have a bunch of leftover rice, I'll just open a can of beans -- usually black or pinto -- and heat them through with [maybe] a clove of garlic or can of diced tomatoes. Sometimes I start with dried beans, but I frankly don't taste much difference between the two, so I stock both and cook as I please. You can throw whatever veggies or spices you have on hand... like oregano and lemon juice with white beans for a mediterranian-ish variation.

July is cold and rainy so far in Boston and I'm missing the flavors of my former land, so I'm opting to share this spicy, mole-inspired variation of my comfort food.

Recipe: Mole-Inspired Black Beans and Brown Rice
Chipotles are dried, smoked jalepenos. You can buy them loose, or canned in what's called adobo, a thick, spicy tomato sauce. There's always at least one brand in the "Mexican Food" section at the grocery store, right next to the little cans of green chiles and the crispy taco shells. If I can find them in rural Missouri, I'm sure you can find them, too.

Brown Rice:
1 1/2 cups brown rice [I like Nishiki brand, medium grain]
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups water
Heat rice and salt over medium high heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, until grains start to pop and smell toasty ~2 minutes. Add water, cover, bring to the boil and turn heat to low. Simmer 50 minutes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices deli ham, diced [optional]*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 32 oz. can of black beans [aka turtle beans]
1 tablespoon tahini [or 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, or a tablespoon of peanut butter]
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
chipotle en adobo, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup beer, preferably dark lager, preferably Negro Modelo or Bohemia

Optional toppings:
Queso fresco [or feta]
Hot pepper sauce
Minced raw onion
Fresh lime juice

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add ham pieces and stir fry until crispy ~1 minute. Add garlic, stir, then add beans and remaining ingredients. Stirring occasionally, simmer 10 minutes or until beans are thick but still pour out of a spoon. Adjust salt to taste.

Scoop rice into a bowl, top with an equal amount of beans, and top as desired.

*We used a little ham in this recipe, but you could swap it for a splash of soy to get meatless savory flavor.


  1. AnonymousJuly 03, 2009

    What is a good substitute for beer?

  2. AnonymousJuly 04, 2009

    Marmite would give you the same flavor profile as beer, but it is easier to find beer (all the alcohol should boil off).

  3. AnonymousJuly 04, 2009

    Substitute for beer? Virtuous living.

  4. Funny.

    You can use plain old water... You just want to add some liquid so the flavors have time to meld before the beans get too thick. The beer is good, but there're enough other flavors you'd only miss it in a side-by-side.

    You could add a 1/2 teaspoon of marmite with a 1/4 cup water.[The commenter didn't mention marmite's a concentrated paste, not a liquid.]

    You could also add the water with a sprinkle of brewer's yeast [a dried spent yeast that's also great on popcorn], but again, it's not integral.