Cuban red beans and rice

I love Smokey Arroz Congri, (Cuban Red Beans and Rice)

I love, love arroz congri made with red beans, Spanish chorizo and salt pork. There are different variations on this dish, but what I love about Cuban red beans and rice is the smoky, salty flavors of cured meats mixed with cumin and oregano. It’s perfect with chicken, beef, and pork. 

Cuban cooking is very non-nonsense, easy to make and easy on the budget. With one bag of red kidney beans and three cups of rice you can make enough servings to feed 10 – 12 people, so you’re sure to have leftovers. 

Congri Cubano

Chorizo is The Key Ingredient in Cuban Red Beans and Rice

You want to use Spanish chorizo for this recipe. This sausage is cured and can usually be found in the same section as pepperoni. You may also come across Mexican chorizo in your search, but that’s usually raw and tastes very different. If you can’t find the Spanish chorizo at your local supermarket, you can buy it from Amazon. I like to use the Palacios Brand for my recipes. 

Salt pork is used in Southern cooking so it’s easy to find in most supermarkets. If you don’t have it, you can substitute bacon (but you may want to make some extra… it’s hard not to eat it while you’re cooking!)

Soak And Cook The Red Kidney Beans

It’s really tempting to take a shortcut and use canned beans to make this arroz congri, but you get the best results when you cook the beans from scratch. The bean broth adds a lot of flavor that balances the spices and the saltiness of the chorizo and salt pork. 

The biggest time issue is soaking the beans for a few hours before you start the cooking process. If you plan ahead you can soak beans in the morning or the night before. 

You don’t absolutely have to soak the beans, but it is recommended. My mom always did it this way and it turns out it’s for the best. 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. 

The process of cooking the beans is easy. You just bring the beans to a boil, throw in half a whole onion, half a whole bell pepper, a few bay leaves and garlic cloves and set to simmer. It takes about 1-2 hours on the stove top, but you can shorten the time using an instant pot. To check them for doneness, take a few beans out, run it through some cold water and taste it. It should be soft but not mushy.

Cuban red beans and rice

Do This While the Red Beans Are Simmering

When the beans are almost ready, start prepping the rest of the arroz congri ingredients.

Chop the rest of the white onion and bell pepper and crush two garlic cloves. Cube the salt pork into quarter inch pieces and slice the chorizo into half-inch rounds. Rinse the rice.

Once the beans are cooked, strain the beans and reserve in a separate container. If you leave the beans in the hot liquid, they will continue to soften and can turn mushy.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a little water and cook the salt pork. Once the water evaporates, add a little olive and cook until golden brown. Throw in the onions, peppers, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the chorizo and cook just a bit to release some of the color. Then add the rice and sauté for a few more minutes. 

Add the bean broth and the beans, bring to a boil then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about half an hour, or until all the water is absorbed. You won’t be using all the beans and the broth, so that you can use freeze the leftover beans and broth to make this recipe again.

arroz congri

Batch and Freeze for Ease (Sorry for the cheesy line, but I couldn’t resist!)

This recipe takes a little time, but it’s worth it. You can shorten the time by cooking the beans the day before. The simmering is super low maintenance and can be done while you do other things. And since this recipe makes about 14 cups of arroz congri, you can freeze what you don’t use for the next time. I do that all the time, it freezes well.

Cuban Congri Rice
Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Try Cuban Congri Rice is Made with Black Bean Too

A very popular version of Cuban congri rice is made with black beans. While it’s a similar cooking process, the flavor is different and relies more on the salt pork. I love this version too, especially with lots of crispy tocino (salt pork) on top!

bean train food for thought

It felt so good to work on this post! I’ve had quite a few changes in my life during the last year and it caused me to stop blogging altogether.

The last time I was cooking in the kitchen with Mami, I made congri rice and tasajo (recipe coming soon). I thought I’d get to post it back in January, but instead I had to pack all my kitchen stuff for a while. I’ve moved twice during this time and I’m currently in the middle of a kitchen renovation. OMG! 🤯 I have NO KITCHEN right now and haven’t cooked in months.

The process of preparing this post made me feel like my life was getting back to normal. By normal I mean I was going back to a place and activity that makes me feel connected and happy.

Whatever changes, ups and downs life brings, we need to make an effort to stay grounded and connected… with the people, places and things that bring us joy and peace. It’s OK to wander for a bit in the midst of change, in fact, it may be just what you need. But it feels so good to come home again. 

Whatever is going on in your life, take the time to feed your soul. You’ll need the nourishment to welcome growth and opportunity. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s the best gift you can give the people you love. 

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arroz congri

I love Smokey Arroz Congri, (Cuban Red Beans and Rice)

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Soak Time: 6 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 14 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Cuban


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 affiliate link, 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 affiliate link. 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. 

Keywords: ipe for red beans and rice, arroz congri, congri Cubano, Spanish red beans and rice, Cuban red beans and rice, congri recipe, Cuban congri, recipe for red beans and rice

fried rice balls with arroz con pollo

Fried Rice Balls Made With Cuban Arroz Con Pollo Is A Great Way To Use Leftovers

Fried rice balls are not usually a Cuban thing, but they are a delicious Cuban appetizer when you make them with arroz con pollo.  These are essentially arroz con pollo fritters, so it’s surprising that it’s not a Cuban thing because we make fritters from just about anything, and we have so many rice dishes. 

I first got the idea to make these from Finka Table and Tap, a local restaurant serving Latin fusion food in Miami. They have these on their menu and I just loved them so much I couldn’t wait to try them at home. My mom tried these and loved them too, so they have the Cuban seal of approval.

These rice balls are a perfect way to turn leftover Cuban chicken and rice into great tapas. And I gotta say I so love a tapas party made with leftovers… like picadillo empanadas or ropa vieja sandwich and now these arroz con pollo fritters. 

fried rice balls with arroz con pollo

How To Make Rice Balls

My son tells me that these fried rice balls are an Italian appetizer known as arancini, made with leftover risotto. My Cuban arroz con pollo a la chorrera that I made a few days ago uses a short grain rice very similar to risotto. So I can use my arroz con pollo to make a similar rice ball. The sticky rice keeps its shape nicely. But the recipe won’t work as well with long grain rice. 

Ingredients for the fried rice balls:

  • 2 cups leftover Cuban arroz con pollo a la chorrera
  • ¾ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup panko break crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying

I took a ¼ cup of rice and shaped into a patty, added about a tablespoon of shredded cheese to the center and shaped into a tight ball. I tried making these with cubes of mozzarella, but the cheese didn’t melt enough when you cooked it. So, I used the shredded cheese. It can get a bit messy stuffing the balls with the shredded cheese, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make a nice, tight rice ball and then freeze for about ten minutes so they’ll hold their shape while you’re frying. 

Then take them out of the freezer, dredge them through flour, dip them in beaten eggs and coat with panko breadcrumbs. You can stick them in the freezer while you heat up the vegetable. Also, fry these on high heat, since they don’t need to be cooked through. This way, the rice balls don’t fall apart. I fried them for about two minutes per side on medium-high heat. 

Rice Balls Recipe

It’s that easy! I like to serve mine with a little siracha mayo. You can buy this ready-made or easily make your own with about a third-cup of mayo and a teaspoon of sriracha sauce. It’s a perfect sauce for these fried rice balls!

You can also make these fried rice balls with leftover paella rice or risotto. And you can stuff them with other types of cheese. Experiment with whatever you have on hand. Add a little wine and you’ve got a tapas night!

Try making my Cuban arroz con pollo or paella mixta first and then make the rice balls with the leftovers. Tell me how you like them!

bean train food for thought

I love cooking with leftovers because it can be fun finding creative ways to turn the week’s leftovers into party food. It’s like recycling… it’s good for us and good for the environment. 

But I almost threw this rice away and missed my chance to make the fried rice balls. I had made a delicious arroz con pollo a few nights ago and had just a bit left, not enough for another night. So it was off to the trash. But then I remembered the arroz con pollo fritters I had at Finka Table & Tap and my leftover rice became this amazing appetizer. 

The reason I share this story is because we tend to throw away things that can have a second life, and I’m not just talking about food. Sometimes it’s a part of ourselves or our past. But our past can be recycled. Even our pain can be put to good use in helping someone else. God has taught me that in His economy, nothing is wasted. So I’m always looking for ways to turn ashes into beauty… and leftovers into Cuban appetizers. 

I encourage you to find ways to recycle and find the beauty even in used things. 

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Rice Balls Recipe

Fried Rice Balls Made With Cuban Arroz Con Pollo Is A Great Way To Use Leftovers

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 9 balls 1x
  • Category: appetizers
  • Method: frying
  • Cuisine: Cuban


Fried rice balls made with Cuban arroz con pollo are a fun way to turn leftover rice into a Cuban tapas party!



2 cups arroz con pollo a la chorrera

3/4 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups vegetable oil for frying


Sriracha mayo (1/3 cup mayo with 1 teaspoon sriracha)



  • Pulse the panko breadcrumbs to make the crumbs just a bit smaller (or stick in a ziplock bag and crush for a bit)
  • Take 1/4 cup of rice and shape into a patty. Add 1 tablespoon shredded mozzarella to the center and shape into a tight ball. 
  • Place rice balls in the freezer for ten minutes
  • Dredge the rice balls through flour, dip in beaten egg and coat in panko bread crumbs. 
  • Stick the rice balls in the freezer while you heat the oil for frying


  • Heat two cups vegetable oil for frying over medium heat
  • Test the oil by throwing in a bit of panko to see if it’s sizzling  hot
  • Once it’s sizzling, add the rice balls a few at time so you don’t crowd them
  • Fry the rice balls for two minutes on each side
  • Drain on paper towels

Serve with sriracha mayo.


  • Serving Size: 1 ball

Keywords: Rice Balls Recipe, How to make rice balls, fried rice balls, cuban chicken and rice, arroz con pollo, cuban arroz con pollo, stuffed rice balls, arancini rice balls

Cuban chicken and rice

Cuban Chicken And Rice (Arroz Con Pollo) Is A Great One-Dish Meal

I’m so excited to share this Cuban chicken and rice dish with you because it’s my favorite Cuban dish! For years, I would ask Mami to make this for my birthday. There are two versions of Cuban chicken and rice you can make, and my favorite version is arroz con pollo a la chorrera, which means that the rice is wet, similar to risotto (chorrera can mean a water spout or drip). 

The Long And Short Of Arroz Con Pollo

For years, we lived in a house divided. Half of my family liked their chicken and rice made with short-grain rice (a la chorrera), and the other half liked it with long grain rice. Everything else about the dish is essentially the same, but the rice makes all the difference in the finished product. 

Arroz con pollo a la chorrera is made with short-grain rice called Valencia Rice which is very similar to the rice used in risotto. So, the dish is saucy, and the rice is soft and sticks together.  And, if you’ve got leftovers, you can make these super tasty fried rice balls (they are amazeballs, trust me!).

But you can also make arroz con pollo with long grain rice, and it will be just as tasty, but the rice will not be saucy and quite as soft.  In this case, you’ll cook with less liquid.

Cuban chicken and rice

Cuban Chicken and Rice Is Almost Like Paella

Arroz con pollo is very similar to paella, especially if you make it with short-grain rice. These rice dishes use most of the same ingredients, except that paella includes a variety of meats and a liberal amount of wine. You can make paella with pork, chicken, and seafood. One of my favorite versions is paella mixta with chicken, shrimp, and chorizo. 

Arroz con pollo is simpler to make because you just need chicken. The other big difference is that chicken and rice cooks in beer instead of wine. First, you cook the rice with chicken broth and just a little bit of wine. Then, add the beer when most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost done. Beer gives this dish a distinctive taste.

arroz con pollo

How To Make Arroz Con Pollo

I like to make this rice dish with dark meat because it’s tastier this way. I’ve made it with chicken breast, and the breast meat tends to be dry. Also, it does not absorb the flavors quite as much. To make this rice very flavorful, you should use chicken and drumsticks with the bone and skin. It gives the dish such a rich taste! 

But I made my version with skinless, boneless chicken thighs because it’s easier to eat. I don’t like having the bones in the way. It’s really up to your chicken preferences. However, if you opt for skinless and boneless chicken, you should use a little more olive oil and definitely use chicken broth. The broth is optional if you’re using bone-in chicken because the bone imparts so much flavor. 

The other ingredients include aromatics such as onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Although traditionally made with chopped green bell peppers and garnished with pimentos (roasted red bell pepper), I make some mods to suit my peeps. My stepdad does not like peppers in his food so I keep the peppers chunky so he can remove them easily. Also, I don’t like green peppers so I usually replace them with red bell peppers. We all have our quirks! 😜

The spices in this dish are smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves. Another seasoning I like to use in my Cuban chicken and rice is saffron. This is an essential ingredient in paella, but totally optional in arroz con pollo. But I love the spice so much that I usually add it to rice and tomato-based dishes. However, this spice is pricey and sometimes hard to find. So you can opt not to use it.

Some folks marinate the chicken the day before. But I usually don’t because I don’t always plan my meals a day ahead, like today 😯. So I typically rub the spices into the chicken and let it sit while I prep the rest of the items. If you have the time to marinate, you can add the wine, salt, pepper, spices, and garlic the recipe calls for to the chicken and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. But don’t sweat it, it will be good either way.

Once you’ve sauteed all the veggies and added the spices, and tomato sauce, add the rice and sauté for a bit. Then add the white wine and the chicken broth. Cook for about twenty minutes, until the arroz con pollo is almost done, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Then, you’ll add a cup of beer and let it finish cooking. You can add some olives if you like, too. 

Garnish your Cuban chicken and rice with peas, roasted peppers, and parsley and served with a side of fried plantains. I like to use the twice-fried green plantains known as tostones. Fried sweet plantains known as maduros are another popular Cuban side dish. Add a side salad, and you’ve got a Cuban feast going on!

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Arroz Con Pollo

Cuban Chicken And Rice (Arroz Con Pollo) Is A Great One-Dish Meal

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: cuban


Cuban chicken and rice (aka arroz con pollo) is flavored with paprika, beer and saffron affiliate link and makes an easy weeknight meal.



2 cups Valencia rice

3 cups chicken broth

2 pounds chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless, but any way is fine)

1 cup chopped onion

½ red bell pepper (I prefer red but you can also use green bell pepper)

4 garlic cloves

1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon oregano

1 bay leaf

¼ black pepper

Pinch saffron affiliate link threads (optional but highly recommended)

1/4 cup olive oil

½ cup tomato sauce

More salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup white cooking wine

1 cup beer



Trim the chicken pieces to remove the excess fat.  Mix the cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper together and rub on the chicken. Let the chicken sit while you chop the onions and peppers and crush the garlic. Finally, measure out and rinse the rice. 


Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large frying pan or dutch pot and heat on medium-high. Add the chicken pieces and brown on each side. Don’t crowd the pan; cook into two batches if necessary.  This should take about 4-6 minutes.

Remove the chicken, add the onions, garlic, and peppers, and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and saute for another minute. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, and saffron affiliate link threads. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. At this point, you may want to add a little more of the spices or salt to taste. Add the chicken and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the rice is al dente. Then add a cup of beer, cover, and cook for a few more minutes until the rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed. This could take 5-10 minutes. This is not an exact science, so check on it to make sure it does not overcook. 

Garnish with peas and pimentos and serve the fried plantains and a side salad. Then, get a little cake, and you’ve got my birthday meal all set! 


You can marinate the chicken overnight using the spices, crushed garlic cloves, and wine. In that case, still use the 2 garlic cloves and the 1/4 cup white wine in your preparation. You may also want to add more spices once you add the broth and taste the seasonings. I don’t usually marinate my chicken, but some folks do it this way. 

To be totally honest, this dish tastes even better when you use the bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks. But I don’t like picking through the bones, it’s a personally hang-up, so I opt for boneless and skinless. I don’t suggest chicken breast because it tends to be dry and doesn’t absorb as much flavor. However, if you go with the skinless and boneless chicken, make sure to add chicken broth.

To make this dish with long grain rice, cut the broth down to two cups (so it’s a one-to-one ratio). Then cut the beer amount to ½ cup and cook it until the liquid is fully absorbed.

Keywords: Cuban Chicken and Rice, Cuban Arroz Con Pollo, chicken and rice, chicken and rice recipes, cuban yellow rice and chicken, how to make arroz con pollo, cuban arroz con pollo

pumpkin rice

Delicious Pumpkin Rice Recipe Is Great Comfort Food

Have you ever tried pumpkin rice? It’s so good and very much a Cuban thing. Cubans love to cook with pumpkins. We add them to our beans and soups. We turn them into pumpkin fritters and make pumpkin flan and custards with them. We’ve always been big into pumpkins and not just for fall. 

And, of course, we add them to rice because Cubans can turn just about anything into a rice dish! It’s great comfort food 😍🍲

pumpkin rice

Pumpkin Rice Recipe Ingredients

The base of this pumpkin rice dish (arroz con calabaza) is a basic Cuban yellow rice recipe. For Cubans, yellow rice is a canvas you can use for any combination of ingredients you have on hand. So it’s actually a great way to clean out your fridge! But for this recipe, the star ingredient is pumpkin. I also included Spanish chorizo, ham, and salt pork (tocino) with the pumpkins. But you can use less meat and more veggies if you like because this yellow rice is pretty fast and loose!

I love the mix of the salty cured meats and the Cuban spices with the slightly sweet taste of the pumpkin. It’s a fantastic one-dish meal! Not all pumpkin rice dishes use chorizo or ham, but I love it this way. I also added some saffron threads, which is not usual, but it gives tomato-based dishes such a great flavor boost. 

A really important note here: A critical step in this dish is adding the pumpkin towards the end of the cooking time so it doesn’t fall apart in the rice. I like to have a lot of chunky pumpkin pieces in my rice!

pumpkin rice

Cuban Yellow Rice Dishes Are So Versatile!

Rice or arroz is ubiquitous in Cuban cooking. Almost every dish is served with rice… either white, yellow, or a mix of rice and beans called congri. Of course, we’ve got a lot of ways to make yellow rice too! But all versions include onions, bell pepper, garlic, and Cuban spices such as cumin, oregano, and paprika. Some folks like to use the seasoning packets and Bijol (yellow food coloring), but I don’t use a lot of packaged stuff. I just use paprika for color. 

The basic recipe uses a sofrito (sauteed onions, bell peppers, and garlic), tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, paprika, and then you can add other ingredients from there. If you’re adding meats, you should brown it first and set it aside to make the sofrito and add the other ingredients. We also sauté the rice for a minute or so before we add the liquid and the veggies. While you can use water, it’s best if you use broth. You can use chicken, vegetable, seafood broth, depending on what type of rice you’re making. 

pumpkin rice

More Cuban Yellow Rice Dishes

Start with your basic sofrito, tomato sauce, spices, rice and broth and vary the add-ins. Soon I’ll be adding some of these recipes to the blog. If you’re really interested in one of these recipes, let me know and I’ll make it even sooner!

Arroz Con Calabaza – pumpkin rice can also include a variety of cured meats such as ham, chorizo, and salt pork. (Done!😉)

Arroz Con Pollo – yellow rice with chicken. You can use regular long grain rice or Valencia rice which is more like a risotto. 

Arroz Con Salsicha – yellow rice with Vienna sausages… I know it does not sound that appealing, but it’s comfort food if you were raised eating it. In fact, my foodie son still loves this dish (don’t tell him I said that, though!).

Arroz Con Vegetales – yellow rice with vegetables. This dish is usually made with frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, and green beans). You can add some ham or pork with the veggies too. If you’re using pork, make sure to brown it first.

Paella – these yellow rice dishes are from Spain and can be made with a combination of seafood, meats or both. All kinds of ways. I’ve got a paella mixta recipe made with shrimp, chicken, and chorizo that’s so delicious and easy to make. (Done! 😉)

Arroz Con Maiz – yellow rice with corn, my kids used to love this one!

Arroz Con Camaroncitos Secos – yellow rice with dry, salted baby shrimp. This ingredient is found in Chinese markets, but Cubans use it too. 

I hope you enjoy making this pumpkin rice dish that’s perfect for fall or anytime, really! Let me know how you like it. 

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pumpkin rice

Delicious Pumpkin Rice Recipe Is Great Comfort Food

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: cuban


Pumpkin rice made with fresh pumpkin, chorizo, ham and salt pork. It’s a perfect one-dish filled meal with great Cuban flavors!



2 cups long white grain rice

3 cups chicken broth (see note)

1 cup uncooked pumpkin cut into 1-inch cubes (see note)

5 ounces ham

2 ounces salt pork (tocino)

2 Spanish chorizo links

4 ounces tomato sauce

½ cup yellow onion

½ cup red bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

Pinch saffron affiliate link threads (optional)

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste



  • Rinse the rice to remove some of the starch.
  • Chop the onions and peppers and crush the garlic. Measure out the spices so you can just add them to the sauté at the right time. You don’t have to do this, but I find it makes the process easier.
  • Cut the salt pork into half-inch pieces. Cut the ham into one-inch cubes. Slice the chorizo links into half-inch rounds.
  • Peel and cut the pumpkin into one-inch cubes.


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Saute the salt pork for about 3 minutes until it begins to brown. Add the ham and cook for another two minutes. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and cook for three minutes. Add the chorizo and cook for two minutes.
  • Add the rinsed rice and sauté for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and the broth and adjust salt if needed. Then bring to a boil and cover. Let it cook for about 15-20 minutes and then add the pumpkin just as the water is mostly absorbed. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is fork-tender.


Sometimes the rice may take a bit more water and cooking time, depending on the rice you use. In that case, just add a bit of water and let it cook for a little longer. I usually add a quarter cup of water at a time and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes. 


  • Serving Size: 1 bowl

Keywords: pumpkin rice, yellow rice, pumpkin rice recipe, yellow rice recipe, cuban rice dishes, cuban yellow rice

Cuban Congri Rice

The Best Cuban Congrí Rice (Black Beans and Rice) 

This Cuban congri rice recipe launched the Bean Train Blog! This is Mami’s best beans and rice recipe and the one that her kids and grandkids want to learn and pass down. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, my brother calls from North Carolina asking how to make it. Every time. That’s what gave me the idea to start this blog, so, Thank You, Henry! 

I’m willing to tackle any cuisine, cook up a storm and invite a few extra mouths. But I hadn’t made this recipe until I started the blog. I knew I was grandma material when I could make this recipe just like Mami’s (well, almost, but don’t tell her!).   

Congri vs. Moros Debate

Congri is a traditional Spanish black beans rice dish served with just about anything Cuban, especially with roast pork (lechón asado) on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena).   Now let’s briefly consider the congri vs. moros debate (or just skip this paragraph if you’re not Cuban). Depending on where in Cuba you lived, congri is made with red beans and rice and moros y cristianos is made with black beans and rice. My mom was a Havana gal, so I grew up calling this black bean version congri. 

spanish black beans and rice

It’s been hard perfecting this black beans and rice recipe because my mom doesn’t use exact measurements. It’s a little pinch of this, a dash of that, and a handful of the other thing. She cooks “a ojo de buen cubero” which basically means she eyeballs everything. But she’s been making this recipe for so long that it always comes out fantastic. I had to watch her like a hawk to get the measurements down.  

How To Soak and Cook Your Beans For Congri Rice

You can’t use canned beans for this congri recipe. You really need to make them from scratch because you’ll be using the bean broth as well as the beans. Softening the beans can be done quickly in the Instant Pot, but you’ll need to finish the rice on the stovetop. Now let’s talk about soaking the beans. My mom always soaked the beans overnight and then replaced the water with fresh water. Some folks say this is not necessary. But recently, I’ve been reading more about anti-nutrients and lectins and how soaking the beans helps remove some of the harmful anti-nutrient compounds. Added bonus, soaking also reduces the complex sugars that can lead to gassy side effects. So, it turns out Mami was right. Soak them beans!  

You can also turn this rice dish into vegan black beans and rice by omitting the salt pork. Add a little extra salt in that case. You can taste and make that call.  Salt pork is common in southern cooking, so it should be easy to find. But, you can substitute bacon or pancetta for the salt pork if it’s easier. I use a lot of it in this recipe because my daughter loves it so much, but you can use a little less and still have great flavor. ¡Buen Provecho! 

Congri Rice with Onions

I have taken for granted how comfortable and fearless I feel in the kitchen. I owe my mother a debt of gratitude for encouraging me to cook, but I didn’t realize it until a few years ago. Sometimes hurt makes us focus on the negative, and we miss the goodness around us. My mom tended to be very critical of me when I was growing up, which damaged my self-esteem. But she always supported my efforts in the kitchen. I never thanked her for that.    

A few years ago, a very talented friend of mine shared why she doesn’t enjoy cooking. When she was young, she tried to make her Dad breakfast and burnt it, and her dad called her stupid. That made me think about my own confidence in the kitchen and how my mother treated my first cooking attempt.   

I was eight years old when I made my first dish from scratch. Having seen my mom make Spanish omelet dozens of times, I was sure I could pull it off. So I cracked the eggs, cut up a potato, and cooked it together, not realizing that you had to cook the potato before adding it to the omelet. 

I served my mom and stepdad raw potato omelet! They ate it up and told me how delicious it was!! Years later, my dad confessed that Mami made him eat it and say he loved it.   

My mom has her shortcomings, but she also has excellent qualities. Being a parent myself, I realize that moms are not perfect, but we do the best we know-how. So thank you, Mami, for sharing your love of cooking with me and always letting me try new things in the kitchen. Sorry, I burned the kitchen a little (just once).   

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How to make congri

Cuban Congrí Rice (Black Beans and Rice) 

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 14 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Cooktop
  • Cuisine: Cuban


Congri is a traditional Spanish black beans rice side dish served with just about anything Cuban, especially with roast pork (lechón asado) on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena). 


  • 12 oz bag uncooked black beans  
  •  2 cups white rice (long grain) 
  •  2 oz salt pork, cut into ½ inch cubes (you can use a bit less) 
  •  1 medium yellow onion, minced  
  •  ¼ green pepper, cut into three pieces (you can also mince this)  
  •  6 garlic cloves, minced  
  •  2 tablespoon olive oil 
  •  4 bay leaves  
  •  2 teaspoon dried oregano  
  •  ½ teaspoon cumin  
  •  3 teaspoon salt  
  •  ¼ teaspoon pepper  


  1. Rinse the beans and soak them in water overnight. If you’re in a hurry, bring unsoaked beans to a boil, turn off the heat and let them soak for an hour.  
  2. Drain the water, put the beans in a large pot, add six cups of water, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon oregano, and three bay leaves. Cook it in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot affiliate link for about seven minutes. Once done, separate the beans from the broth and reserve both. Don’t leave the beans in the broth as that will make the beans too soft. They will continue cooking in the rice. (See note below for stovetop instructions.)
  3. Once the beans are just about done, rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside. My kids are rebels, and they don’t rinse the rice, and it’s still OK just so you know.   
  4. Heat a dutch oven (or caldero*) over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the salt pork and one-quarter cup water. Once the water evaporates, add about two tablespoons of olive oil and brown the salt pork for about six minutes. Once done, remove the pork from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pot.  
  5. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent about four to five minutes. (Note on the peppers: My mom usually leaves the peppers in big 1 inch pieces and removes them at the end. But you can mince them if you like.) 
  6. Now add rice and sauté for a minute. Add two cups of the bean broth (stir the bean broth before you measure it out to make sure you get the sediment at the bottom, this helps turn the rice black).  
  7. To the rice mixture, add one cup of black beans. Add one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon oregano, half a teaspoon cumin, one quarter teaspoon ground black pepper, and one bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Sometimes you may need to add a little more salt, or you may like it with a little more cumin. My mom’s philosophy with seasoning is less is more, and she’s usually right, but you’ve got some wiggle room here.   
  8. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to as low as possible until the water evaporates about twenty to thirty minutes. Check the rice and see if it’s soft. If it’s still a little hard, you can add a bit more bean broth. Put a sheet of aluminum foil over the pot and then the lid. This helps to lock in all the steam. Give it a few minutes and check again. Fluff the rice and serve with your favorite meat.  
  9. Some favorites to try it with Ropa Vieja, Picadillo, Tasajo, Lechon, Bacalao… just about anything if you’re Cuban.  


  • Soaking Time: You must soak the beans. I usually do it for 4 hours or overnight. But if you’re in a hurry, you can bring the beans to a boil in six cups of water, turn it off and let it soak for one hour. The reason to do this is to remove some of the harmful lectins and to make the beans easy to digest. However, Dr. Gundry, an export on lectins, says that soaking isn’t necessary if you’re using a pressure cooker. 
  • Troubleshooting: If your beans are too soft, don’t add them with the rice. You can add them after the rice is done cooking, just before serving.
  • Stovetop Instructions: Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are fork tender but not too soft (they should still be whole). This should take about one hour or so.  
  • Leftover Beans and Broth: You will have leftovers beans and broth. You can save these to make black bean soup or save the beans to use in salads and meal prepping. 
  • Freezing Instructions: You can freeze leftover beans and broth, portioned out and separated so you can make Congri another time.  Both the beans and the rice freeze well and can be kept up to 3 months in the freezer. You can portion the Congri in small 1-cup containers, as my Mom does for me ❤️
  • Prep time does not include soaking the beans. 


  • Serving Size: half cup

Keywords: congri rice, congri vs moros, spanish black beans and rice, black beans and rice

Paella Pan

Paella Mixta Is The Perfect Party Food

Paella Mixta is party food! Actually, Paella Parties are very much a thing in Miami. Catering companies dazzle party guests with their paella pan the size of a kiddie pool and proceed to cook it right in front of them like it’s no big deal. I love Miami! 

Paella is originally from Spain, but my recipe is Cuban Paella (of course!) made with chicken, shrimp, and chorizo. As much as I loved Paella, I had never made it myself so I invited Mami to a paella party in my kitchen. While it had been years since she’d made paella mixta, she still had it! I loved watching my mom in her element, in the kitchen, cooking up a storm and telling me what to do! She does love to tell me what to do ;-) 

chicken and shrimp paella

I’ve since made this paella mixta many times. It’s my daughter’s favorite! Recently my son helped me make this dish, and he wanted to make a few edits to my recipe. I was very resistant initially, but seeing as he’s a professional cook, I gave in. The end result was much tastier! 

Not gonna lie. I’m both excited and annoyed that his is better. So here are a few things he did to level up my paella recipe.

My Son’s Edits To My Cuban Paella Mixta Recipe

  • He used ground chorizo instead of sliced. This added more flavor and color to the whole dish. 
  • Instead of adding paprika to the sofrito, he seasoned the chicken and shrimp with the paprika and salt and then added more to the sofrito. Seasoning at every stage really stacked the flavor. 
  • He dried the proteins before sauteing, so they got some really good color and crispness.
  • He killed the heat after the rice came to a boil. Once I add the rice, I usually bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer it without a lid. He brought it to a boil, turned off the burner, and covered the rice. It came out with just a bit of bite, but not as wet as mine. While mine is excellent the first day, the rice did tend to get a little mushy when reheating leftovers. (I always make enough for leftovers!)

The paella spices in this dish are paprika and saffron. I like using smoked paprika and a generous pinch of saffron. Pound for pound, saffron is the most expensive seasoning you can buy. Luckily you don’t need to use more than a pinch. I paid about $8 for enough saffron threads to make 2-3 recipes. Don’t skip this ingredient because it’s an essential paella seasoning. It gives your dish authentic paella flavor.   The rice you use is also a key factor. You need to use short-grain rice similar to risotto. Cubans use Valencia rice, but if you can’t find it, use Arborio rice.

Cuban Paella

Now let’s talk paella pan. The traditional paella pan is wide and shallow and doesn’t have a lid. But you can use any wide skillet. I make mine in my mom’s caldero, a HUGE dutch pot that’s older than me. I know I was cooking in it when I was in my teens, and it was old then. These calderos are very common in Cuban cooking, and it’s what I use for most of my mom’s signature recipes. You can buy the calderos in various sizes, but Mami’s is extra-large because mom often cooks for a crowd. Yea, she’s extra.  

Oh, and the cool thing about paella leftovers is that you can make these amazing fried rice balls. You’ll love them as much as the paella!

Wondering what to serve with Paella? My favorite paella side dishes are twice-fried plantains (tostones) and a side salad. You can use this recipe to make the tostones or buy toston chips at the supermarket.  Now let’s get cooking! 

Bean Train Food For Thought header

Sometimes we can be too stubborn to change, even when it’s for our betterment. Standing in the grocery store arguing with my son about switching up my chorizo is an example. Here’s the kid whose diapers I changed telling me how to make Paella! I have pots older than him! 

But the truth is that my son is a very talented chef. I let go of my pride and allowed him to show me his techniques, which turned out to be an improvement. Pride gets in the way of our growing unless we learn to eat a little humble pie. The flavor is actually better than you would imagine ?

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chicken and shrimp paella

Cuban Paella Mixta

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Cuban


Paella is party food, a delicious crowd pleaser with a Latin flair. This chicken and shrimp paella has a little chorizo thrown in for an irresistible spicy flavor.  


  • 1/3 cup olive oil   
  • 2 cups white onion, medium dice (about 1 large)   
  • 8 cloves garlic, pressed   
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced   
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley   
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste   
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, more to taste* 
  • 1 tablespoon paprika, or a bit more* 
  • 3 cups Valencia rice  
  • 4 cups chicken broth  
  • generous pinch saffron affiliate link threads (Do not crumble the saffron.) 
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on 
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • ½ lb ground Spanish chorizo (this is already cooked) 
  • 1 cup white wine   

For Garnish   

  • Jarred pimento peppers, cut into thin strips   
  • Frozen sweet green peas, thawed 


  1. Heat paella pancaldero or skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.  While it heats, prepare your ingredients.
  2. Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs and thoroughly dry them. Then season with smoked paprika and salt on both sides. Set aside. 
  3. Peel and devein the shrimp. Thoroughly dry and season with smoked paprika and salt on both sides. Set aside. Dice the onion and peppers.  
  4. Rinse the rice. (I usually just rinse once.) 
  5. Now that the pot is hot add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes until it’s starting to crisp. Remove from the pot but leave the drippings.  
  6. Add the chicken thighs in one layer and don’t crowd them. Cook it in stages if necessary. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes each. Remove it and let it rest.  
  7. Add the shrimp and cook on one side for about 3 minutes (you don’t want it to overcook and get rubbery. It will finish cooking with the rice. Once it’s done on one side, remove it and let it rest.  
  8. Saute onions, garlic, pepper for about 5 minutes, until softened. 
  9. Stir and cook for one more minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook one more minute. 
  10. Add the rice and cook it for about 6 minutes.  
  11. Add the chicken broth, wine, and saffron threads. Add the chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and stir and adjust seasonings if needed.
  12. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover. Let it coast for about 20 minutes. Rice should be a bit al dente. If you want to cook it a little bit longer, let it coast for another 10 minutes. If you’re not serving right away, you can transfer the pot to a 250-degree oven while you get everything else ready.  
  13. Once the rice is al dente, add the garnish and serve. Let’s get the party started! 


Seasoning: You’ll season each element individually, so you may end up using a bit more (my son does not measure his spices). I usually use the measurements provided, so I suggest you measure out the spices first and then sprinkle them from your measured portion. If you end up running out, just use a little more, it will be fine. 

Pans: I used an extra large caldero affiliate link that has been in my family for decades. But you can use a paella pan affiliate link. I’ve also linked to a caldero that’s similar to the one I have. Keep in mind that this is a very large pot and you may not have many uses for it, unless you cook for large groups. 

Keywords: cuban paella, paella mixta, paella spices, chicken and shrimp paella

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