This Cuban red beans and rice recipe is packed with salty, smokey flavors of Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika and salt pork. It’s the perfect complement to your favorite chicken, pork and beef dishes!
1 bag uncooked red beans (14 ounce)
1 medium onion, divided in half (you’ll chop one half and leave the other half whole)
1 medium red bell pepper divided in half (you’ll chop one half and leave the other half whole)
5 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (I like to use smoked paprika for this!)
2 teaspoons salt
5 ounces Spanish chorizo (about 2 sausage links)
3 ounces salt pork
3 cups uncooked white rice
3 tablespoons olive oil or pork fat
To Cook the Beans
Soak beans for 4-6 hours or overnight. (See note below.)
Drain the beans and add to a cooking pot with eight cups of water.
Add half of the onion and bell pepper to the pot. Don’t chop the onion and peppers in this step, because we’ll want to remove the pieces once the beans are cooked.
Add three garlic cloves and two bay leaves and set the beans to boil. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Check for doneness after an hour and keep checking until the beans are soft enough to be mashed, but not mushy. They should still have bite to them, like al dente pasta.
If you’re using an Instant Pot , cook for 12 minutes.
Remove the onion, pepper, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Drain the beans and reserve the liquid (bean broth). You want to make sure to separate the beans from the bean broth. Otherwise, the beans will continue to cook in the hot liquid and can become mushy. You want them to be just a bit undercooked because they’ll finish cooking with the rice.
You’ll need 2 ¼ cup cooked read beans and 4 cups bean broth.
You can use the leftover beans and broth to make a half batch of red bean soup, or you can freeze the beans and broth in separate containers to make this congri rice again.
To Make the Arroz Congri
Chop the other half of the onion and bell pepper and crush the remaining garlic cloves.
To a skillet, add the salt pork with ¼ cup water over medium high heat and cook until water evaporates and the fat renders. Add 3 tablespoons of pork grease or olive oil and cook until the pork is browned.
Add the onions, garlic, red bell pepper and sauté until softened. Add the chorizo and cook for about 1 minute.
Add the rice, cumin, black pepper, paprika, bay leaf and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broth and the beans. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt and taste. Adjust seasonings as desired. My mom’s recipe is a bit light on the spices, so feel free to add more to suit your preference.
Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium low and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed, and the rice is cooked. About 25 minutes. If you find that the rice is not done, just add about a quarter to a half a cup and continue to cook until done. Check it every 10 minutes.
Makes 14 cups rice
You don’t absolutely have to soak the beans, but it is recommended. Soaking the beans helps remove some of the harmful anti-nutrient compounds, plus it reduces the complex sugars that can lead to gassy side effects.
Cook time shown is based on using an Instant Pot . Add an extra 1 1/2 hours if you’re simmering the beans on the stove top.
You can freeze leftovers and reheat it in the microwave. I like to place a damp cloth over the rice to keep it moist as it cooks, it also keeps the beans from bursting.
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