Cuban Beans and Rice

Cuban beans and rice, not to be confused with Puerto Rican or any other beans and rice, is easy and authentic and, thanks to black beans and bacon, results in something that’s definitely more than the sum of its parts.

A large pot of Cuban beans and rice on a makeshift outdoor grill.

Beans and rice is a staple dish in many cultures. But it’s something sorta special in Cuba, where it goes by the name congri. There are as many variations on congri as there are households, and this version holds true to tradition by cooking the rice for the last few minutes in the bean cooking broth the authentic Cuban way [Editor’s Note: Which is really quite brilliant]. The notable addition of bacon, onion, peppers, and spices—ingredients that we take for granted but that aren’t always available—take what could be a paltry pantry staple to really quite spectacular places.–Angie Zoobkoff

What can I add to Cuban beans and rice?

Cuban beans and rice already has the notable addition of bacon. Though it’s traditionally served simply, which is perfectly satisfying to us and in keeping with it’s humble origins, although you could choose to add some cilantro, cheese, sour cream, avocados, diced onions or salsa.

Cuban Beans and Rice

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 1 H
  • 14 H
  • Serves 6 to 8
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water by at least 3 inches (8 cm). Slide the pot in the refrigerator and let soak for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add enough fresh cold water to cover the beans by about 1 inch (2.5 cm), toss in the bay leaves, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer until the beans are just tender, which can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the age of your beans. Add the salt and continue to cook for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, move the bacon to a stack of paper towels placed on a plate.

Add the onion and pepper to the pan and cook in the bacon fat until the vegetables soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, just until the garlic softens and the spice is fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Dump in the rice and stir constantly for a couple minutes to completely coat the rice with the bacon drippings. Then pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

When the beans are done, drain them, reserving at least 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid. Stir the beans into the pan containing the rice and continue cooking over medium-low heat until the rice is tender, 5 to 15 minutes more. If you need more liquid to fully cook the rice, use the reserved bean cooking liquid. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt. Stir in the bacon and serve the beans and rice immediately. Originally published April 17, 2017.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This version of Cuban beans and rice has a ton of flavor. While sautéed onions and peppers are often part of beans and rice, the bacon definitely takes it to another level. Garnishing the dish with your choice of chopped cilantro, sour cream, chopped avocado, tomatoes and/or some grated Cheddar will help make this dish a very satisfying and budget-friendly meal. As a side, you will easily get 6 to 8 servings.

This Cuban beans and rice was a really easy main dish with great subtle flavors. Not including the overnight bean soaking, the recipe took about an hour and a half. Serves 6 to 8.

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Comments

    1. I was just going to say that at my local Cuban restaurant they also call it Moros y Christians.

      Love ’em. So much more than the sum of the parts!

    2. I was about to let her know that, black beans is moros and cristianos, red bean is congri (Moors and Christians’. he dish commemorates the Reconquista, a long period of battle between the Islamic Moors and the Christian Spaniards )
      And also a really good idea to use chicken stock, we just use the water from the beans

    3. Felipe, thanks for that. From our research, congrí is indeed another name for the dish, which is traditionally made with red beans and served on the eastern part of Cuba. In and around Havanna, they use black beans.

  1. I had the absolute honor of heading to Cuba, and I fell in love with the people and the country. I would love to go back to do more for those who live there. Some of the women made this dish for us, though they didnt have things like peppers and def not bacon. But their dish was amazing! I am so excited to try this recipe out!!

  2. There is something about Cuban beans and rice that is soooo much more than rice + beans!

    At the Cuban restaurant where we have it, it’s called “Christianos y Moros” or (white European) Christians and (black African) Moors. It’s heaven with their vinegar-y slow roasted pork and fried plantains or yucca.

    I am grateful to now have a recipe of my own to try.

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