This version of “Moors and Christians,” an all-time Cuban classic, is adapted from a recipe given to us by Frank, a talented young chef who caters for many of Havana’s foreign embassies. Since he is usually cooking for large dinners and receptions, Frank normally cooks his own beans. To season them, he adds a small cheesecloth bag containing a bay leaf, a stick of canela (Mexican cinnamon), and 5 or 6 black peppercorns. If you are cooking beans to use in this recipe, follow the basic directions for Frijoles Negros, but omit the onion, garlic, and green pepper and add Frank’s seasonings. We especially like the exotic but subtle flavor that cinnamon gives to his recipe. For a similar effect using canned beans, add ground cinnamon to the seasonings as suggested below.
In a large saucepan over low heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove it with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the bacon drippings in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent. Stir in the cumin, salt, pepper, and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the rice and sauté for 1 minute. Add the reserved bean liquid. (If you are using canned beans, add enough water to the liquid to make 2 cups.) Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and oil, cover, and continue to simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice and beans are tender. Fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with the bacon and the cilantro and serve.
© 2006 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.