Saturday, June 02, 2012

Mexican Rice and Refried Beans

EASY MEXICAN-STYLE RICE [feeds about 4-6 people]

I usually throw this together without measuring, so all of these measurements are approximate.

Fortunately, as this is a basic recipe, you can add your own embellishments quite easily.  Watch out for sticking rice; remember to keep the heat low and simmer it with the lid slightly askew.  This stops it from boiling over.  Just before it's done, turn it to the lowest heat possible and put the lid on. This steams it perfectly for the last few minutes.

Heat 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add a few cloves of minced garlic, some chopped celery [optional], two chopped medium onions, and a handful of chopped peppers (red/green/combination). Cook five minutes.  Throw in 2-4 tsp cumin, a tablespoon of oregano, a few tsp of paprika, and a pint of vegetable or beef broth.  Put the lid on and allow the rice to steam for 30 minutes.

Check the rice periodically; if it appears a bit raw on top add some water to steam it properly.  When the rice looks soft and full, add a tin of tomatoes or a cup of tomato passata [sauce], stir, and cook a few more minutes.

When the rice is finished, salt and pepper it well and put grated cheese, chopped green onions, and plenty of chopped fresh coriander [cilantro] on top.

We love this rice with any kind of beans.  My favourite meal ever! :)

REFRIED BEANS [makes 6-8 servings]

This recipe came from our friend Hannah Stone, and it is delicious!  You can either eat these beans as they are or mash them with a potato masher for authentic-tasting refried beans.  Originally, this was a slow-cooker [crockpot] recipe, but I just use my large Le Creuset casserole pot over the hob as I don't own a slow-cooker.

Drain and wash three cups of pinto beans. [you can pre-soak these overnight to cut down on the cooking time]

Put beans in a large pot, add nine cups of water, and cook over high heat.  While waiting for them to boil, add a few cloves of crushed garlic, 2 TBS cumin, 2 tsp each of salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 or 2 chopped chillies, and a chopped onion. When boiling, turn down to the lowest heat and cook for 2-6 hours until soft, adding water as needed.  Best cooked the day before eating for an amazing flavour, and thick, brown bean stock.

If you are mashing these for refried beans, remove some of the liquid if they're looking soupy.  Over a medium heat, as the beans are steaming, mash and stir with a potato masher.  If you turn the heat up a bit at the end, stirring the entire time, even more liquid will dissipate, creating the perfect texture for refried beans.

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