Puerto Rican Style Rice and Beans
I have been craving Puerto Rican food. I know this may sounds like a very specific craving but it’s true. I need that spice, that flavor, that specific taste that Puerto Rican food has. If you also share my love for Puerto Rican food, then you know what I am talking about. So how can we satisfy this craving without actually traveling to Puerto Rico? Well, to begin, my amazing rice and beans recipe will do!
Any rice and beans connoisseur knows that Puerto Rican rice and beans are like no other. They are far better than any regular old rice and beans recipe I have ever tried. The first secret? A little thing called sofrito.
What is Sofrito?
You may be wondering what sofrito is and I am here to explain. Sofrito is a sauce made primarily of peppers that is extremely popular in Puerto Rico. In fact, sofrito is the base for many dishes. Need a little extra flavor, add some sofrito. Want your recipe to have a little kick? Sofrito will do the trick. Thinking of making your classic chicken recipe a little more interesting? The answer (you guessed it): Sofrito.
But what exactly is in sofrito? Primarily peppers, onions, tomatoes and some spices. The most popular brand (Goya) adds cilantro while many homemade, authentic Puerto Rican dishes often use culantro in addition to cilantro. That’s right, there is an herb called culantro that is totally different than cilantro and is actually closer to coriander in taste. Whatever recipe of brand you reach for, sofrito is so very important to Puerto Rican cuisine that any recipe without it can be considered blasé.
Adding Sofrito and Ham
So, you have your sofrito ready to go, now you need your ham. Or Canadian bacon or salt pork- any of these will do! This is another necessary ingredient if you are looking to make real, delicious, Puerto Rican rice and beans. While yes, you can opt for a vegetarian version and skip this ingredient, I strongly suggest you keep it in. One slice of ham may seem like a very small amount but it will impart so much flavor into your rice and beans, you will be amazed. So ham- check, got it!
Of course the right blend of spices can make or break a simple dish like rice and beans so, in order to keep our recipe perfect, this spice blend has been tested and adjusted to be the most perfect mix possible. Oh, I already feel like I am back on the island of Puerto Rico when I smell this spice mix…pure culinary harmony.
Adding the Right Ingredients
Now that we have gone over the necessities when it comes to making Puerto Rican rice and beans, time to get cooking! Thanks to the magic of pre cooked canned beans, this recipe will only take a matter of minutes before it is ready to be devoured.
The main part of the recipe revolves around the bean and, while the rice may seem like an afterthought, it is not. If you choose to make rice (which I definitely think you should in order to keep with tradition), this bean recipe is great on its own. Rice is not always needed so skip it if you must! I’ll say it one more time though, beans and rice is the way to go.
If you are craving Puerto Rican food like me, we should both grab this recipe and start cooking. The sofrito, the ham and the beautiful spice blend will transport us straight to the island. So let’s make our plates, close our eyes and listen to the imaginary waves hitting the shore on the beautiful beach. There is nothing more classic in Puerto Rico than a plate of rice and beans by the ocean!
Hope you Enjoy! =)
This recipe makes for a perfect side dish or you can enjoy a big bowl as a main course!
- 2 cans organic pinto or black beans (15 oz. each)
- 1 thick slice of ham, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sofrito
- ⅓ cup fresh salsa
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- sea salt +black pepper
- Optional: stir in 2 cups cooked rice
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add ham and cook until it begins to brown.
- Add olive oil, salsa, and garlic then saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add beans and remaining seasonings.
- Lower to medium heat and let everything simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
- Add rice if desired, then let cool for a few minutes before serving.