Black Beans and Coconut-Lime Rice

There are few things more poorly equipped than a beach house kitchen, but the euphoria of being at the beach tends to balance out the frustration. That’s where I am right now. Frustrated with the kitchen (few tools, electric stove, crummy pots and pans) but ecstatic to be at the beach! I have learned to bring my own knives. That’s a frustration I just can’t bear any more. So anyway, we arrived yesterday and it seemed like we should have something with a summery flair, but something easy. I’d packed the car, driven the car, stopped so the dog could get out of the car, unpacked the car, etc. Way too tired to take on very much.

Black beans and rice has hundreds of variations and this is in the top five as far as I’m concerned. A friend brought this dish to book club a couple of months ago and I could have eaten the entire dish by myself. It wasn’t as good here, but I’m going to chalk that up to being in a beach house kitchen. It’s easy, easy. We ate it as a one pot meal, but it would be great as a side to jerk chicken too. Essentially we’re talking about making rice (not a strength of mine, incidentally) and opening a couple of cans of black beans. You chop an onion, a pepper and a mango. You add some sweetened coconut, chopped cilantro and zest a lime. Done.

Of course there’s no zester or microplane here, or even a vegetable peeler, so I used lime juice instead of lime zest. The flavor is much more subtle and not as good. Use the zest if at all possible. My other confession is that I used canned chicken stock. You know I never do that, but it’s just so much easier to transport to the beach, or pick up after you get there. My rice was a little heavy, but generally it turned out well. Definitely use the sweetened coconut. You need the sweet to balance the heat of the pepper. Someone else might tell you that you need the bitter of the radish to balance the sweet tang of the mango, but I think radishes are gross so I left it out. You know how to make beans and rice. Just use the recipe to inspire some Caribbean flavors.

Good? Yes. I’ll make it again at home where I have a little more control over my cooking environment.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Sure. I’d serve it as a side dish in a meal with a tropical theme.
Special shopping? I don’t usually have mango in the house so that required a trip out, but it’s not like they’re hard to find.

Black Beans and Coconut-Lime Rice

Ingredients

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/4 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lime
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Toppings: lime wedges, diced mango, sliced radishes, sliced fresh jalapeño peppers, sour cream

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

2. Bring broth, next 2 ingredients, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add onion and poblano pepper, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in black beans, chili powder, cumin, and 3/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

4. Grate zest from lime, avoiding pale bitter pith, into a bowl; squeeze juice from lime into bowl.

5. Fluff rice with a fork. Fold lime zest and juice, coconut, green onions, and cilantro into hot cooked rice. Serve bean mixture over rice with desired toppings.

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