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Not Dominican Beans

December 12, 2010 pm31 10:45 pm

but I am getting closer.

Once a year or so I try. And I am never right.

But this time, closer than ever.

I know, I know, I could just use canned beans, buy a jar of sofrito, and be all set.

Instead, do I use a recipe? I should. But no. I remember (almost), I read a few recipes, and then I improvise. Here are the improvisations:

Soaked beans 4 hours. Everyone says overnight. I figure 4 hours is close enough.

Boiled beans in a mix, 50% water, 50% low salt chicken broth (Trader Joes).

Sliced a yam into the boiling beans (think I remember thinking that I once saw yam in some beans. Makes sense, tasty thickener.) Turned out ok, but maybe I could have gone for smaller pieces.

Sofrito: used yellow onion. used a head of garlic (recipes called for wimpy 3-4 cloves). Should have chopped pepper a bit finer. Three stalks of celery (seemed about right). Mixed parsley and cilantro (not sure if this was right). Substituted canned crushed tomatoes for tomato paste – this changed the quantity significantly, and brought in more liquid than I had planned for.

So it was not too tasty, then I went for some more sazon (flavored salt) and it got damned close. I think there was too much sofrito for the pound of beans I’d cooked.

Served completely non-traditionally: over toasted barley (I’m no good at rice).

Anyone have words of wisdom?


11 Comments leave one →
  1. Fred Klonsky permalink
    December 13, 2010 pm31 3:48 pm 3:48 pm

    Rice cooker. Perfect every time.

  2. Tim permalink
    December 13, 2010 pm31 11:17 pm 11:17 pm

    The other thing you can do with rice is to cook it the way you’d cook pasta–put on a big pot of water, boil the rice until it is the desired consistency, then strain the excess water.

    (perhaps this is what a rice cooker does, but I’ve never owned one)

    If all else fails, the Trader Joe’s frozen rices are pretty good if you’re willing to roll the dice with plastic in the microwave.

  3. December 15, 2010 pm31 6:40 pm 6:40 pm

    Wisdom: make it more than a couple times a year. You’ll perfect it faster. (No really – I make perfect omelettes – I just made one every day until I got it right. It took about a month.)

    Same thing with rice. (Rice? Rice is SUPER EASY DUDE. Dump rice:water in saucepan in a 1:2 ratio. Cook it on a low simmer until the water disappears (~15 minutes). Turn the burner off and let it sit there for another 5-10 minutes. Eat.)

  4. Zulma Villalba permalink
    December 17, 2010 am31 1:13 am 1:13 am

    White, or for that many any rice, is the staple in all hispanic families. When my sons were living with me, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t make white rice. I didn’t cook at all on Saturdays – take outs or restaurants.

    Although my sons loved my cooking, there’s one expert cook that makes the best, fail-proof rice – Daisy Martinez. If you follow her steps, people will be hounding you down for your rice.

    Here’s her website for making perfect white rice:

    Buen Provecho!

  5. December 19, 2010 pm31 2:34 pm 2:34 pm

    @Kate – the batches are big, so by the end of the week I usually don’t want to turn around and make another week’s worth. But this week I did… Tasty again, but not quite the right taste. I also think the second day tastes better than the first, so we’ll see.

    And this week I’m doing it with rice (even though I kinda liked my toasted barley) First attempt? Meh. And stuck badly to the pot. I’ll be at it all week. Solving rice should not be so hard.

  6. December 25, 2010 pm31 11:29 pm 11:29 pm

    Being married to a Puerto Rican, I’ve had to get rice & beans down cold. My advice? Use Goya products and follow the recipe on the can, to a T. My sister is married to a Dominican and she does the same thing. Its the only way to make it taste like mom’s rice and beans. As for starting with dried beans, soak ’em overnight using cold water. And what you thought was yam was probably a piece of ham hock. If you don’t use ham hock, use oil or other fat, you need it. Don’t boil the beans. It should cook in the sauce.
    As for the rice, I saute my rice in olive oil with minced garlic before adding the water. Like Kate says, 1 part rice, two parts water, bring water to a boil, turn down to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes then let it sit covered, off the heat for at least five minutes. The steam will loosen the rice & unstick it from the pot.

    • December 26, 2010 am31 8:39 am 8:39 am

      The beans, round 3, are coming out fairly close. I’ve observed both with meat and without meat kinds… these are without meat and I’m not thinking a chunk of fat is needed. I get a little flavor from boiling with chicken broth instead of water – that’s enough. And what I thought was yam was in fact yam. I’ve had both.

      It’s close enough, by the way, that I will not go to packaged sofrito. Mine is tasty, and improving. Today I am experimenting with the tomato. But the head of garlic, the bit of celery, the parsley, cilantro, the green pepper, all good. Hey, do you know the best sort of pepper to use? Mine’s been bell. And, tomato – today I’m crushing a few fresh tomatoes to combine with a small jar of paste. We’ll see.

      As for the rice – why didn’t I know? I should have known! Of course, thank you! I toast my barely with a bit of minced onion, why shouldn’t I start my rice with minced tasty garlic?

    • December 27, 2010 pm31 3:01 pm 3:01 pm

      Rice worked like a charm. Of course. Thank you.

      • January 1, 2011 pm31 10:35 pm 10:35 pm

        oh, good. i actually responded to your response to my comment but i think your spam filter snared it…

  7. December 27, 2010 am31 2:28 am 2:28 am

    green bell pepper is standard, as far as i know.

    what exactly is your aversion to tomato paste? if it’s because it’s not homemade, it’s very easy to make your own. if it’s because you don’t want to use a whole can, then buy the paste that comes in a tube. you can also reduce the amount of liquid from the fresh tomatoes by coring, seeding and juicing them, using only the outer flesh of the tomato.

    as an aside, for barley, i add a halved onion and thyme sprigs to the cooking water, then take it out at the end.

  8. December 27, 2010 am31 9:30 am 9:30 am

    Yes, green bell pepper is standard, so knock yourself out.

    What exactly is your aversion to tomato paste? If it’s because it’s not homemade, its very easy to make your own.

    As an aside, when I cook barley, I add a halved onion and thyme sprigs to the cooking water, then take it out when it’s done.

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