Moros y Cristianos: Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

My love affair with legumes is starting to become worrisome. I knew there was a problem when we had leftovers after a Mexican fiesta and I found myself imagining reasons to go into the fridge, and oh – while I’m in there I might as well have just one more spoonful of the Amped Up Refried Beans. No harm in that, right? And yes, I WOULD like some more corn and black bean salad. Well, and green bean and chickpea stew MUST be healthy, so…okay.

And then we sat down to our Cuban dinner of Mojo Chicken, Moros y Cristianos, and Cuban Sweet Potato Salad…and I went straight for the beans and rice. Studded through with delicious black beans, brimming with flavor. I couldn’t get enough of it. I only turned my attention back to the rest of my meal when Mike’s hungry gaze settled on the rest of my chicken breast, which was a good reminder to hurry things along. Oh, delicious Cuban rice. How could I have tried to make you into just another side? You’re more than that. I took you for granted, and I apologize. Friends again, right? By the way, you’re looking GOOD today….is that a new bowl?

By the way, if you’re in the mood for a brief history lesson – Moros y Cristianos translates to Moors and Christians. The beans are representative of the Moors, and the rice would be the Christians. Cuban food is very regional, with strong influences from the Spanish, North African, and Caribbean areas. Moros y Cristianos has trickled down from the Spanish, where it is a popular dish served at the Feast of St. George. This feast, as well as a number of other festivals, commemorates the Reconquista – a prolonged period of fighting between the Christian and Muslim people. The festivals generally end with large mock battles in which the Christians (riding horses) heroically defeat the Muslims (riding camels) and then all of the Spaniards gleefully celebrates the Muslim demise. And now…and now I feel guilty (and possibly racist) for enjoying my rice and beans….thanks for NOTHING, Spanish festivals.

This is why I should generally just say, “I’m making rice and beans” and leave it at that.

Moros y Christianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large (or 1 medium) yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 19oz can black beans
  • 2 cups long grain white rice

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Begin by chopping up the onion into a 1/4 inch dice.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Chop the garlic up into a mince as well.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

And continue chopping (that’s it after this, I promise) to bring the green pepper – seeded, of course – into a 1/4 inch dice as well.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

In a nice and fairly big pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic together until the onions are slightly translucent. Keep stirring to make sure that they don’t burn and become bitter. When the onions are cooked to this point, add the green peppers and give it a nice stir.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Hot on the heels of adding in the green peppers, add just about everything else. In goes the crushed tomatoes! Down into the mouth of the beast with the red wine vinegar! Stir it up and sprinkle on the spices whilst daintily dropping the bay leaf in. Onions and garlic and cumin, oh my. It smells really delightful at this point. Stir the mixture and let it cook for just a few minutes so that the tomatoes lose that tannic bite.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Drain and rinse the black beans and add these to the pot. Rinse the rice under cold water as well to remove some of the starch, and let it join the party.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

A nice stir makes sure that everything is incorporated and the rice is well coated with those savory herbs and spices.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Pour in the chicken stock and bring the uncovered pot up to a boil. As soon as it boils cover the pot, reduce the heat to minimum (or very low), and let it simmer away for the next 20 – 25 minutes until the rice is tender. Fight the compulsion to lift the lid up halfway through and check progress, because that lets out all of the steam that we’ve just worked so hard to create. Patience, my friend. Patience. When the rice is ready, all of the ‘good stuff’ like the peppers and beans will have risen to the top. Give this a nice gentle stir to work them in to the rest so that they speckle through the rice.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Now this is comfort food. Hearty, low fat, po’ man’s rice and beans for the choosy and the beggars alike. And yet, so very good.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

I make no apologies for the fact that I will happily eat these leftovers alone for lunch tomorrow.

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

It’s at this point where you might question why I made a side dish of rice for 8 eaters, but only 4 chicken breasts. Am I crazy? Was there a mistake? No. There was no mistake. That was as deliberate an act as anything.

I LOVE THIS RICE

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Moros y Cristianos:  Cuban Black Beans and Rice
  • http://bruleeblog.wordpress.com bruleeblog

    By the picture I’m going to guess that you’re adding uncooked rice, yes?

    Just wanted a clarification. I hate it when a recipe says add X amount of rice but don’t tell you if that’s cooked or uncooked rice.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Hi Bruleeblog! Thank you for stopping by!! Yes, the recipe uses uncooked rice. I should probably specify, but I always just assume uncooked unless something specifically says ‘cooked’. But that’s a great clarification to make, thank you.

  • http://noblepig.com/ noble pig

    This sounds so wonderful, what a lovely dish!

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Thank you Noble Pig!! By the way, I am LOVING all of the Hallowe’en pics on your blog. They’re totally getting me into the spirit!

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    I love moros y cristianos! I always order it when we go out for Cuban. Your recipe looks fab! Definitely one to bookmark!

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Thank you Susan!! I hope you enjoy this as much as the ones that you’ve had in the past, and I’d love to hear your suggestions on what you would change.

  • Pingback: Mojo Chicken with Avocado Mango Salsa

  • Pingback: Near and Beer to my heart < Miscellaneous, etc.

  • Alison

    Hey!

    I need to tell you that I made this yet again (for about the fourth time) over the weekend – and to make it even more of a ‘whole meal,’ I crumbled in most of a block of medium-firm tofu?!?! I amped up the spices a bit, and it blended in so nicely! I started the tofu browning in oil and when it was almost ready, I added the onion, garlic and everything else. It was a hit! (Well, with Megs and me, anyway!)

    Mike would love it.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

    You left some words out, there. You know how they do, in the movie reviews?

    I think you meant to say, “Mike would… STRENUOUSLY OBJECT TO ANYONE WHO SAYS THAT HE MIGHT …love it… IF TOFU WERE ADDED TO HIS FOOD.”

  • Pingback: What’s in a Name?: Moors and Christians « Suburban Kitchen

  • Pingback: Rib Eye Steaks with Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes and Honey Balsamic Drizzle | Choosy Beggars

  • Pingback: Lazybones Feijoada Con Arroz: Brazilian Black Beans with Rice | Choosy Beggars

  • Ron Alonzo

    Please clarify why Cuban Americans take credit for Morros y Cristianos.
    Is it because of the Discovery and conquest of the NEW WORLD went through CUBA?
    In the Spanish Caribbean, southern Mexico, Central America and Colombia and Venezuela where black beans are popular the dish is just called Morros y cristianos, and is quite popular – without giving Cuba de credit for origin.
    Is this a Cuban – American thing. I do not want to be politically incorrect.

  • 1sweetpea

    I just made a modified version using Rancho Gordo organic pinto beans, which I soaked from dried, since they were what I had in my cupboard. I went half and half on the chicken broth and cooking liquid and the results look and smell fantastic. We’re having leftover ropa vieja tonight, with a simple salad and my rice and beans. Can’t wait until dinner! Leftovers never sounded so good. The night I made the ropa vieja we just had it with plain rice, but it just didn’t feel Cuban to me without the rice and beans. No doubt 3 of us will barrel through 5 or 6 servings’ worth, leaving just enough for another turn on the breakfast table tomorrow, with eggs and some sliced tomatoes. Thanks for a lovely recipe. Many recipes involve bacon or some cured pork product. It’s nice to have a healthier version too.

  • Abigail Lanier

    I usually don’t leave comments on things but this recipe is soooooo delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love making this!!!! I’ll 1.5-2 the recipe and it makes enough for our 6 person family as a main dish wrapped up in a tortilla and there will be leftovers for a few days. Easy lunches!! Love love love this recipe! Cant say it enough!

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Abigail, thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a comment! I am actually blushing a bit and just thrilled to bits that you and your family enjoy this recipe. Thank you :)