“Recipe: Congris”

- “Congris, an essential part of the typical Cuban Dinner”

Congris, moros y cristianos, moros rice,
white rice and black beans… whatever you choose to call it, this simple criollo dish is a staple in Cuban food
today.  A perfect mixture of
carbohydrates, protein and fiber, this is a great post-workout snack,
especially for distance runners.  In
addition, it is the perfect accompaniment for any meat dish with dinner, or
even top a half a cup of congris with
an egg and some banana for a fuel-filled breakfast.

 

“Congris”

Tools:

 

  • Sharp knife
  • Rice cooker
  • Slotted spoon

 

Ingredients:

 

  • Black beans
  • Sofrito (aji, ajo, cebolla)
  • Salt
  • Rice
  • Oil
  • Cilantro
  • Lime

 

Preparation:

 

  • Place beans and water in pressure cooker and
    prep for 45 minutes.
  • Prepare sofrito- garlic, onion, peppers
  • When cooked and slightly cooled, place rice in
    rice cooker, adding 1 cup bean liquid per 1 cup of rice.
  • Use slotted spoon to add beans to rice cooker
  • Add sofrito, salt and 1 tablespoon oil.  Stir and start rice cooker.
  • When done, squirt juice of 1 lime and add some
    fresh cilantro.  Stir and serve.

 

US Variation-Without a Pressure Cooker:

 

Congris can be prepared using canned black
beans, though I recommend preparing the beans on your own.  My Cuban cooking instructors insist that you
have to reserve the same water you soaked and prepared the beans in to prepare
with the rice…both because the black color of the water is what gives the rice
its color, and because they say the vitamins in the beans are retained in the
water during the soaking process.

To prepare the beans on your own: soak
overnight in a large bowl full of water.
Put beans and all of the water in a large saucepan with a lid and cook
until beans are tender and water is black.

 

Sides/Accompaniments:

Congris
as a lunch or dinner dish is great with a squirt of lime and some fresh
cilantro.  You may also add more fiber by
slicing in some fresh tomato, avocado, cucumber, or whatever fresh veggies you
have on hand.

 

 

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“Recipe: Arroz con Pollo”

I would be willing to bet that the majority of US Americans, even those whose Spanish vocabulary is limited to “Hola” and “Buenas Dias”, are familiar with arroz con pollo.  A simple dish consisting of chicken and rice, this meal is quintessentially Cuban, super easy and really delicious!

For all of these recipes I am trying to include some form of anecdote over the significance of the dish in Cuban cuisine and culture.  When I asked a Cuban to share a story about arroz con pollo, I found myself in the middle of a history lesson, and learned a new story about Cuban revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

One afternoon in the late 1950’s (some point between December 1956 and December 1958), Che and a group of revolutionaries stopped at the home of a local farmer who supported their struggle in the Oriente.  The host offered food for the rebels, giving plates of white rice for the men, and for Che, he brought a plate of arroz con pollo.  Refusing to eat arroz con pollo while his men had only rice, Che dumped all of their rice along with his dish of arroz con pollo back into the caldero ( a large, traditional Cuban soup pot ), mixed them together, and divided them equally among him and his men.

 

“Arroz con pollo”

Tools:

  •  Pressure Cooker or Large soup pot with lid
  • Big Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Rice Cooker

Ingredients:

  •  Whole chicken, bone-in, skins removed
  •  White Rice
  • Sofrito (garlic, onion, peppers)
  • Salt
  •  Vino Seco
  •  Rosemary, Oregano, Cumin
  •  Oil
  • Tomato Puree
  • Water
  • Lime

Preparation:

  • Add chicken, sofrito and a little oil to large frying pan, saucepot or pressure cooker and cook on high heat until sofrito is tender and chicken begins to brown on both sides.
  • While chicken cooks, add salt and desired dried herbs and spices (* A trick for cooking with dried spices: Measure desired amount into your palm and rub hands together while adding to the pot.  This activates the scents and flavors of the dried herbs and spices.)
  • Add ¼ – ½ cup tomato puree and 1 or 2 tablespoons of vino seco and cook until puree gives chicken a slight red/pink tint.
  • Add water to pot to cover chicken, cover pot and allow to cook on medium-high to high heat for 20 minutes in pressure cooker, 30-40 on range.
  • Place desired amount of rice in rice cooker and add 1 cup cooking liquid from chicken per cup of rice (If some little pieces of chicken or rosemary or peppers ends up in with the rice while cooking, this is great!)
  • When the rice is done cooking, plate it and add a squirt of lime.  Top each plate with desired quantity of chicken and a few spoonful’s of the cooking liquid.