Alice’s last post looked utterly delicious! Black beans have so much flavor and make for such a satisfying meal.
I grew up eating beans every day. They are high in protein and in fiber. In other words, they are good for you. They are also very inexpensive, especially if you buy the dried beans and cook them yourself.
The Brazilian beans I ate every day were a little different from these, but I took inspiration from them. Our beans were brown and not quite as flavorful as black beans. We didn’t typically add vegetables to them either. It was just onions, garlic and maybe the odd bit of meat for flavoring. The black beans were eaten more frequently in Curitiba and areas near the southern coast of Brazil, where we vacationed each year. They were also used for feijoada, the national Brazilian dish of beans and many different sorts of meats cooked together into an amazingly rich goodness. This combination of things meant that to me, black beans were special occasion food. I enjoy eating them all the time now, without having to wait for a special occasion.
To make these every day special occasion beans, first chop up some onion and tomatoes, press garlic through a garlic press and mix it with some salt until it becomes a paste. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, drizzle enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Toss in the onions, let them saute until they are soft, add the garlic paste and let cook for about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook them until softened and starting to release a little of their juice, about five minutes.
Then toss in a can of rinsed, drained black beans,
stir well to combine, season with salt, fresh ground pepper and some cumin.
Use the empty bean can to fill with hot water and add that to the pan.
Let this cook until thickened, add a dash of hot sauce and serve over rice.
The rice starts off in much the same manner. Saute the onion in a heavy bottomed pan and once it has begun to soften, about five minutes, add the garlic paste and let that cook for a minute or two.
In the meantime, rinse your rice until the water runs clear, then drain it. When the onions and garlic are softened and have sufficiently scented your kitchen (remember to BREATHE in this heavenly aroma)
add the rice and stir it around in the pan. Let it combine with the onion mixture and even fry a bit.
After about five minutes of frying the rice,
pour in the boiling water.
You should use nearly double the amount of water as rice. Stir it well, making sure to scrape the rice off the edges of the pan. Taste the water to check the flavor, adjusting the salt to taste.
Let it boil for a minute or two, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. It should barely simmer for about 20 minutes. DO NOT stir the rice while it is cooking. You will end up with a glob of mush and will incur the wrath of every Brazilian grandmother there ever was! Check the pan after about 15 minutes, looking for little holes in the top of the cooked rice and take a taste to see if the rice is soft. You should poke a spoon down to the bottom of the pan to make sure the water has not all boiled off, as you don’t want to burn your rice. If the bottom of the pan is dry and the rice is still not done, add a little more boiling water and keep covered.
You will end up with a slightly crispier crust of rice at the bottom of the pan when you are done. This is a favorite treat among most rice eaters, at least in my family.
Top the rice with the beans and you’ve got yourself a delicious, satisfying, inexpensive meal.
I decided to add my Mom’s oven “fried” chicken to this meal. It is baked in the oven, but tastes crispy, as if it had been fried. You couldn’t ask for an easier way to prepare chicken.
Sprinkle the chicken with some salt and pepper.
Place a cup of flour in a zip lock bag or any clean plastic bag. Add the seasoning of your choice to the flour. Be generous with your spice.
I used a Cajun spice this time, along with some garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Drop the chicken in the bag of seasoned flour and shake until it’s completely coated.
Place it, skin side down, in a baking pan that has been drizzled with a little bit of oil and a couple of dabs of butter. Repeat for all the pieces. Pop the pan into a 375F degree oven and let it bake for about 20 minutes. Pull the pan out, flip over all the pieces and put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes. If it’s not brown and crispy enough for you yet, let it go another 10 minutes, then check again.
When the chicken is brown and crispy, pull out of the oven and serve. With the beans and rice, of course.
And I’m happy to report that the chicken is just as good eaten cold the next day. Yum!
1 can of black beans
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A few shakes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Crush garlic, then add to a small bowl with a teaspoon of salt and mix together with a spoon until it becomes a paste. Set aside.
Open can of beans (or cook them from dry), rinse beans and set aside.
In medium saucepan or large skillet, heat enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Saute the onion until soft, about five minutes. Then add the garlic paste and the green pepper, if using. Cook a minute or two longer, then add the tomato. Once the tomatoes have softened and begun to release their juice, about five minutes, pour the drained beans into the pan and mix in the cumin. Then fill the empty bean can with hot water and pour into the mixture. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the water has thickened a bit. Crush some of the beans with the back of your spoon to thicken as well. Add a few shakes of hot sauce and serve.
This is the vegetarian version. You can include bacon to the saute process or add a ham hock for a meaty smoky flavor. Chorizo or other smoked sausages add extra richness to the dish.
1 cup of long grain rice, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of salt
1-2 tablespoons of oil
scant 2 cups of boiling water
Rinse rice until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
Crush garlic, then mix in a small bowl with a teaspoon of salt until it becomes a paste. Set aside.
In a medium heavy bottomed pan, heat enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and saute until soft, about five minutes, then add the garlic paste and cook a minute or two longer. The rice can be added and fried in the onion and garlic mixture for about five minutes. Pour boiling water in the pan, enough to cover the rice by about 1/2 an inch (2 cm), or a little less than two cups.
Stir it well, making sure to scrape the rice off the edges of the pan. Taste the water for proper seasoning to your taste.
Let it boil for a minute or two, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Let it simmer on low without stirring for about 20 minutes. Check the pan after about 15 minutes, look for little holes in the top of the cooked rice and take a little taste to see if it’s soft. Also, poke a spoon down to the bottom of the pan to make sure the water has not all boiled off, as you don’t want to burn your rice. If the bottom of the pan is dry and the rice is still not done, add more boiling water to the pan and keep covered. Once the rice is softened, turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for about 10 minutes before serving.
Bernice’s* Oven “Fried” Chicken
4 chicken breasts, skin on and bone in, or use whatever pieces you prefer
1 cup white flour
2 tablespoons powdered seasoning. I used Cajun, but you can use Jerk seasoning, a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, Mrs Dash or any other premixed seasoning
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Salt and pepper the chicken. Place the flour and seasonings of your choice in a plastic bag, mix well. Drop the chicken in the bag of seasoned flour and shake to coat.
Place all the chicken pieces skin side down in a baking pan drizzled with some oil and some dabs of butter. Bake for 20 minutes, pull out and turn the chicken pieces over and return to oven for another 20 minutes, or until it is as crispy as you prefer. Eat.
*Bernice is my Mom
Hey Alice. Are you enjoying this tour of South America? What do you have for us now?