Versions of this classic, a first cousin of Hoppin’ John with a Side of Peas, are made all around the Caribbean. As a satisfying one-dish meal, rice and peas is easy to prepare but subtle and distinctive in its taste. (The legumes we know as beans are called peas in the Caribbean.) You can eat it with pleasure over and over again. No wonder it holds claim to “national dish” status in Jamaica.
Basic ingredients are long-grain rice, kidney beans, and usually coconut milk; the rest are a combination of whatever else a particular cook likes to include in her or his rice and peas. We like this version, but you can leave out any or all of the optional ingredients (tomato, bell pepper, hot chile) if you wish. Serve this with guacamole or salsa and a green salad.
Because large legumes like kidney beans and chickpeas take a long time to cook, we like to cook them in large batches, unseasoned, and then freeze them in
If using soaked and drained kidney beans, place the beans and water in a large heavy pot, bring to a boil, and boil until tender, about 2 hours. Add
Heat the oil or drippings in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic. When the garlic begins to change color, add the onion. Fry, stirring constantly, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, the optional tomato and red pepper, and the thyme. Bring almost to the boil, stir well, and add to the cooked beans.
Mix in the optional chile pepper and the drained rice and add enough water so that the rice is covered by
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