Yet another cooking day in the Lambie-Bóveda household! I promise once the Crismases are over, the cooking blogging will diminish and there will be more posts on us. Besides, I’m starting to wonder if the neighbors think I’ve lost it since I know take pictures of everything I cook!
As I told you earlier, one of the things I love most about Christmas is that I get to cook Cuban food. On Monday I went to a Christmas party and took what else? Moros con Cristianos!
If you are Cuban, there is no Nochebuena nor New Year’s Eve without frijoles negros or Moros con Cristianos. And since I will be away for New Year’s I wanted to make sure to leave you something!
Ask 5 Cuban women for the same recipe and I bet you that you will get 5 different recipes. I call it the 5 Cubans Rule. Provinces, families, regions, everyone does things differently. So I would not be surprised to hear some of you cook Moros in a different way or even call them Arroz Congrí.
Believe it or not, I only learned how to make Moros last year (tsk, tsk). Got the ingredients from the abuela of a friend whose family and him came over in el Mariel (Hi Leo!). I love and dread making Moros, because it’s the kind of dish you perfect with practice…and I don’t make it often.
It’s been over 6 months since I last made it, so I am a bit weary of what the outcome will be. Here is the recipe for Adriana’s Moros con Cristianos (Adriana’s Congrí for my PuertoRican readers!):
- one cup of frijoles negros (pre-soaked)
- 3 cups of the frijoles water
- 3 cups of rice
- bay leaves (3 to 5 depending on the size)
- half a green bell pepper
- one quarter red bell pepper
- medium yellow onion
- 8 garlic cloves (at least!)
- jamón de cocinar (ham steaks preferably with the bone)
- Spanish Chorizo (up here I use Portuguese Linguica)
- Bacon (center cut works best)
- Pork (either chops or boneless ribs)
- Olive oil and a bit of manteca (pork manteca NOT crisco)
- White vinegar
- Salt, pepper, cumin and oregano to taste
I don’t usually measure my ingredients, I work a ojímetro (visually). If you are familiar with the ingredients, and have eaten Moros before, then you can figure out the amounts. What I’ve listed here is more a rule of thumb. However, the ratio of beans to rice, and in particular of rice to water is non negotiable.
Some of you might say “hey, there is no tomato in there!”. You are right. NO TOMATOES. In my household the only sofrito that never took tomatoes in any form, was the frijoles negros sofrito. So it makes no sense in my house that Moros would take tomatoes. Just the same I know some of you will balk at the chorizo in the Moros; remember 5 Cuban women, same dish, 5 different recipes.
Back to the Moros. Soak the night before one cup of dry frijoles negros in about 5 cups of water. No, you cannot cheat and used canned ones. The color will be off. After 24 hours, simmer the frijoles in very low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Note: the frijoles should be almost done but not quite, since they’ll finish off in the Moros. If you soften them too much, they’ll disintegrate when you cook the rice.
I start the sofrito off with olive oil, cubed ham, ground chorizo, cubed pork and bacon. This not only serves to cook the meat, but the fat from the chorizo and bacon will add great flavor! Cook at medium low heat (enough to not burn, and enough to not produce any water) for about 5 to 10 minutes to make sure it releases all the fat. If it starts to dry up add a bit of manteca. At this point, I also add a bit of adobo sin pimienta.
Once the cubed pork is somewhat cooked, add the onions, peppers, and garlic in that order to safeguard from burning the garlic. Make sure to sofreir for a while (no more than 5 minutes) again at this medium low heat. Add a bit of olive oil if necessary. Here I add the cumin and the bay leaves so they can release the aroma and flavor into the sofrito, and then transfer it to the rice.
With the sofrito ready, add two caps of white vinegar (I think its about two teaspoons or one full tablespoon of white vinegar. Make sure it is WHITE any other vinegar will completely change the taste of the Moros.
Sofrito with Rice
The sofrito will immediately release a pungent vinegar onion smell. That is your cue to add the three cups of white rice and stir making sure to mix very well. So that the rice does not burn or stick to the cazuela at this point (because you do want some raspa at the end!), add another bit of manteca (but careful you don’t want the Moros to be a greasefest!).
After a 2 or 3 minutes stir in the cup of frijoles negros. Give it about 5 minutes carefully stirring and making sure nothing gets burnt. This will allow the sofrito flavors to pentetrate the white rice and the frijoles. Add in the 3 cups of the black water of the frijoles (this will give it the right color). Stir well and wait for it to start softly bubbling.As you stir and it starts to simmer, taste the caldito to make sure you are not short anything. Here you will add a pinch of oregano and pepper, and anything else you think it still may need (maybe some more cumin, bay leaves, or a bit of salt). Once it starts to bubble, cover tightly with foil and the lid of the cazuela. Place the heat on its lowest available setting (usually Simmer/SM), and leave for about 20-25 minutes.
When the 25 minutes have passed, uncover completely. With a fork (NEVER use a spoon, or the rice will come out pegao), fluff the rice from the bottom up. Re-cover and leave another 10-15 minutes. Apaga la ornilla, and let it sit for 5 more minutes.
Moros con Cristianos or Arroz Congrí
Uncover, fluff, serve……and of course ENJOY!!!! BTW, it came out GREAT!
PS. If by any chance you added too much water and it came out sticky, spread the Moros on a shallow but big Pyrex and place in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes. This should finish it off.