From America's Test Kitchen Season 12: A Latin Celebration
Beans and rice is a familiar combination the world over, but Cuban black beans and rice is unique in that the rice is cooked in the inky concentrated liquid left over from cooking the beans, which renders the grains just as flavorful. For our own superlative version, we reserved a portion of the sofrito (the traditional combination of garlic, bell pepper, and onion) and simmered it with our beans to infuse them with flavor. Instead of just draining off and throwing away the flavorful bean cooking liquid, we used it again to cook our rice and beans together. Lightly browning the remaining sofrito vegetables and spices with rendered salt pork added complex, meaty flavor, and baking the dish in the oven eliminated the crusty bottom that can form when the dish is cooked on the stove.
Serves 6 to 8 as an entree and 8 to 10 as a side dish
Serve this recipe as a side dish or as a main course with a simple green salad. It is important to use lean—not fatty—salt pork. If you can’t find it, substitute six slices of bacon. If using bacon, decrease the cooking time in step 4 to eight minutes. For a vegetarian version of this recipe, use water instead of chicken broth, omit the salt pork, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste with the vegetables in step 4, and increase the amount of salt in step 5 to 1½ teaspoons.