Friday, June 24, 2005

¡A Comer!

I thought I'd share some facts and a recipe for my favorite dish CONGRI! A delicious dish of rice and beans.

Now, depending on what part of the island you're from, the beans will either be any type or exclusively red. Since my family is from el Oriente (the west side) we use any type of bean: especially black beans. It's a really hard dish to perfect, with a well kept secret that took me forever to discover. Nevertheless, once I figured it out, I came up with my own recipe that almost anyone can do anywhere in the US.

Yet, before I show you my recipe, here's a quick fact: Many non-Cuban hispanics think that Congri comes from "Arroz Con Gris" (rice with grease). So many times I'll say Congri, and many a Mexican or Colombian here in Chicago will say: "ay si, he comido arroz con gris."

Right... uh... sorry I don't think so.

The word Congri, and even many Cubans don't know this, comes from the Haitian dish: "Congo Con Riz" (Black beans with Rice). And during the Haitian revolution, many French fled to el Oriente bringing this dish as well as their love for strong coffee in demitasse cups. And since Cubans, then as now, speak fast, Congo Con Riz eventually became Congri.

This is also why en el oriente this name means any beans with rice dish. Whereas, the Havana province, on the other side of the island, already had their version called: "Morros y Cristianos" (Moors with Christians), thus making Congri with red beans.

Bueno, here's my super easy recipe (try it at home!):

Congri a la Yuma (Congri American Style):

What you need:

2 cans of generic grocery store black beans.
(Trust me, it's cheaper, and the beans aren't as soft as Kirby, El Ebro, or even La Preferida. You don't want a mushy dish!)

2 cups of dry rice
(long grain parboiled, or even Jasmine will do)

1 cube of Chicken Bullion
(You could use the tomato color bullion to add color to the rice.)

2 tsp of olive oil

A bottle of Goya Adobo
(If you can't find this then season to your taste using: salt, powdered garlic, powdered onion, powdered cumin, and powder oregano. Oh, and do not use Goya Sazon or your rice will come out orange.)

Plug in your rice cooker, leave it open, and place a medium sized strainer over it. Open both cans of beans and pour them over the strainer such that bean liquid get's strained into the rice cooker. Fill both cans with water and pour it over the beans to help separate them. Season a fine of goya salt over the beans. Smash the bullion cube and drop the pieces in the rice cooker to start dissolving in the bean water. On a frying pan heat the olive oil and add the rice. Stir the rice until the olive oil spreads evenly over all the rice. Once all the rice is wet and semi-translucent, pour the rice and the bean simultaneously into the rice cooker. Stir it well. Close the rice cooker and set it on cook. And in 45min to an hour you have Congri!

The more traditional recipe calls to make your own beans, use chopped onion, garlic, and green pepper, and to use Bacon instead of the Chicken Bullion, but it takes some finesse and understanding as to how to do this well -and, sorry, that's a secret no Cuban divulges easily.


Kathleen said...

You're making me hungry! The tradtional is worth learning. Just the smell while it's cooking. Ahhh

Juan Paxety said...

Canned beans? Oh my. Well, if you must.

It really is wonderful.