SIDE DISHES

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

Description

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!


Ingredients

Scale

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


Instructions

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



Notes

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

Yuca Fries

Cuban Yuca Two Ways: Yuca With Mojo and Yuca Fries

Yuca with mojo or yuca fries are great side dishes to serve with Cuban roast pork. In fact, yuca is preferred over the usual fried plantains. As much as we love our fried maduros and tostones, yuca and roast pork are a Cuban power couple. The traditional Cuban dish we serve for the holidays consists of Cuban roast pork, yuca con mojo, and congri rice. And, of course, we have to make enough for pork sandwiches and yuca fries the next day!

Yuca With Mojo

What is Yuca

Good question! Yuca is a root vegetable that is denser and starchier than potatoes and is served boiled and smothered with mojo and onions. It has a very mild taste that absorbs all the garlicky goodness of the mojo, and the texture is creamy but firm. It’s quite a surprise when you first eat it! 

Although the texture and taste are good, what makes this dish so praiseworthy is the mojo, which consists of sour oranges, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and sauteed onions. When I say the yuca is smothered, I do mean smothered! In fact, I always serve a side of mojo so you can have extra!

Cuban Yuca

Yuca is a very long vegetable, and it has a thick bark-like skin. So you need to make sure you remove the top layer that’s dark brown and the second layer that’s light pink. In fact, the best way to peel the yuca is to cut a slit lengthwise and then start to peel off the skin, similar to how you would a bark. 

Cuban Yuca

It’s easier to remove the bark if you first cut the yuca into four-inch pieces lengthwise. Once the bark is removed, split each yuca piece in half or thirds. You’ll notice there’s a tough string-like piece in the center. You’ll want to remove that because it’s too tough to eat. The easiest way to remove it is after you boil the yuca. So boil the yuca until tender and remove the thick string-like center.

If you can’t find fresh yuca in the produce section, you may be able to find frozen yuca chunks ready to cook.

Cuban Roast Pork

How To Make Mojo Sauce

This is a versatile sauce that’s also used as a marinade. When you use it as a marinade you omit the onions and add a little cumin and oregano. Mojo is easy to make, and it packs such a nice citrusy punch!

To make the mojo sauce for the yuca, sauté sliced onions and crushed garlic in olive oil until the onions are softened. Then add fresh-squeezed sour orange juice at the end. If you can’t find sour oranges, you can use a combination of equal parts fresh-squeezed lime juice and orange juice. Add some salt and pepper and that’s it! You can play it pretty fast and loose with the ingredients and add as much or as little as you like to get it where you like it. You’ll find you’ll be using this sauce to top meat dishes and veggies all the time!

Yuca Fries

Make Yuca Fries With The Leftovers!

You always want to make a little extra yuca and mojo for the second day because you’ve got to make yuca fries. To make the yuca fries, slice the yuca pieces into planks that look somewhat similar to wedge fries but so much better, IMHO. When you fry the yuca, the outer skin gets super crunchy, and the inside gets creamy. This is the best way to enjoy your leftover yuca! If you want just go for the yuca fries, you’ll still need to boil the yuca and let it cool before you make the yuca fries.

Serve the yuca planks with mojo on top or on the side. Or, my favorite, serve it with a little lime-cilantro aioli. OMG! I want some right now🤤

A local fast food place in Miami called Pollo Tropical serves Yucatan fries (fried yuca), and they are the best. They also cut the yuca into tiny chunks to make the Cuban version of tater tots. So, yes, you can also cut the yuca into 1-inch pieces and make them tater tot style. If you live in Florida, you’re probably familiar with this chain. If not, stop by when you visit the state!

Want to try the yuca with the Cuban roast pork? Here’s the recipe for lechon asado. And, if you want to go for the full Cuban feast, make caramel flan for dessert, too.

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Yuca Fries

Cuban Yuca Two Ways: Yuca With Mojo and Yuca Fries

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: vegetable
  • Method: boil or fry
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

Yuca with mojo sauce is a great side dish for roast pork. This Cuban root vegetable is dense, creamy and is often eaten as yuca fries, too.


Ingredients

Scale

23 big yuca root vegetable (about 2 pounds)

1 sliced yellow onion

56 cloves minced garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Juice from 12 sour oranges, or to taste (see note)

Salt and black pepper to taste


Instructions

Boiled Yuca With Mojo

  • Heat a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. 
  • While the water heats up, slice the onions and mince the garlic.
  • Cut the yuca into 4 inch pieces and then half each piece. 
  • Peel the yuca skin (you need to remove both the dark outer skin and the pink layer underneath… see note).
  • Add the yuca to the boiling water and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the yuca until fork tender (about 20 minutes or so).
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until the onions are softened but not browned.
  • Add the sour orange juice to taste.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour over boiled yuca. 

Yuca Fries

  • Cut the leftover boiled yuca pieces into wedges. (It’s best to cut while it’s cold.)
  • Heat 1-2 cups of vegetable oil in saucepan.
  • Fry the yuca wedges.
  • Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
  • Serve with leftover mojo sauce (or make some more, if you ate all if to the day before!). You can also serve the yuca with lime cilantro aioli. 

Notes

You should be able to find sour oranges in Latin markets. But if it’s not available, use a mixture that’s equal parts lime juice and orange juice. You’ll want roughly ¼ cup of juice.

If you can’t find the yuca in the produce section, you’ll probably find it in the freezer section.

The best way to peel the yuca is to cut the long yuca into 4 inch pieces. Then cut a slit into the thick bark-like skin. Peel back the bark as you would on a tree. This way, you’ll remove both the outer skin that’s dark brown as well as the inner layer that’s light pink. The pink layer is hard and is not appetizing. 

This recipe makes enough for about 6 servings of yuca and leftovers for about 3-4 servings the next day. 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 10

Keywords: yuca, yuca fries, yuca with mojo, boiled yuca, yuca con mojo, yuca frita, yuca recipes, cuban yuca, fried yuca

Cuban Tostones

Cuban Tostones Are Great As A Side Dish or Appetizer

I love tostones! They are my favorite way to eat fried plantains. I love how every bite gives you a mix of salty crunch and tender plantain flavor that complements so many other flavors. Tostones taste so, so good with savory toppings or a tangy, citrusy dipping sauce like chimichurri. Or paired with popular Cuban dishes like paella or picadillo

Cuban Plantains

What’s A Plantain? 

Before I get too far along, I want to make sure you know what a plantain is. Plantains look a lot like a banana, but they are bigger and need to be cooked before you can eat them. They are grown all over South and Central America and the Caribbean, and it’s a staple of both Latin and Caribbean diets. You can learn more about Cuban plantains in my Why I Love Cuban Plantains post.

Maduros vs. Tostones

The two most popular ways to enjoy plantains are when they are green and are twice-fried to make tostones. Or when they are super ripe and turned into maduros. It seems most folks prefer one or the other. In my house, we’re evenly split between the two. But if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely want to try making maduros. 

For me, tostones are the best. Especially because you can shape them into little tostones cups that can be filled with just about anything you find delicious, like ceviche or ropa vieja

Fried Plantains

How To Cook Tostones

Tostones are twice-fried and mashed into discs. They’re made with green plantains. Because they are unripe, the flesh tends to be really hard. So you need to first blanch the plantains by frying them in low heat. Once they are soft enough to pierce them with a fork, you can mash them and then turn up the heat and fry until they are crisp. 

Usually, tostones are mashed into a disk using a tostonera, plate, or flat surface. But you can also use a stuffed plantain press that shapes the tostone into a cup and then fry them like that. This gives you a delightful little bowl that you can fill and serve as appetizers. 

One of my favorite fillings to use is shrimp ceviche. But you can fill them with meats, cheese, salsa, you name it. Try them filled with Cuban picadillo or ropa vieja.

Tostones Cups

Where to Buy Them

Since plantains are so popular now, you can probably find them at your local grocery store. If not, try specialty markets or Hispanic grocers. 

You can also find tostones in the chip aisle, already fried and ready to eat. Although these are not as good as the ones you fry yourselves, they are crunchy and can be used as a chip. My only complaint with these is that they are usually smaller than the ones you make at home and are often broken into pieces. You also miss the meatiness you get with homemade tostones. Still, they can be fun to eat. Brands to look for include Chifles and Chiquita.

You may also find fried plantains in the freezer section. These have usually been fried once and mashed, so all you have to do is fry them for a few minutes in medium-high heat to crisp them up. You may even be able to find them in the cup shapes already. Goya is a good brand to look for. 

I do highly recommend you try making them yourself if you can. They are so worth the effort! Let me know if you make them and what toppings you used.

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Cuban Tostones

Cuban Tostones Are Great As A Side Dish or Appetizer

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 9
  • Total Time: 14 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

These tostones are delicious as a side dish or served with a dipping sauce. You can also mash into cups and fill with savory goodies like ceviche or ropa vieja.


Ingredients

2 green plantains

Vegetable Oil for frying

Salt


Instructions

Preheating: Add oil to a frying pan and set on low heat. You’ll need about 1 inch of oil in the pan. 

Peeling and Slicing: Cut the ends off the plantain, cut 4 slits diagonally into plantain. Stick a knife blade just under the skin and begin to pry the skin off. Peel each section, being careful not to remove any of the flesh. Cut crosswise into 1 1/2 inch slices. 

First Frying: Fry the plantain slices on low heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Remove from oil, drain on paper towels and salt immediately (so the salt sticks to the tostones). 

Smashing: Place one slice on a cutting board and use a small plate or a large glass measuring cup to mash the plantain to about a 1/2″ to 1/4″ thickness, depending on your preference. If you’re making tostones cups, you’ll need to use the special masher. Spray the cup with a little cooking spray to make it easy to remove the mashed cup. 

Second Frying: Increase the heat to medium low and cooke the plantain discs or cups until golden, about 2-3 minutes total.



Notes

Serve with chimichurri or lime-cilantro aoili. 

Watch the videos in the post to see how to mash the tostones. 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6

Keywords: tostones, tostones cups, fried green plantains, fried plantains, how to make tostones, cuban tostones, cuban plantains

maduros

Fried Sweet Plantains Are The Most Popular Cuban Side Dish

Fried sweet plantains, known as plátanos maduros, are a very common side dish in Cuban cooking. It’s usually served with savory meat dishes but can be eaten with just about anything. In fact, some folks can’t even eat their favorite Cuban dishes without their side of fried maduros! 

This dish is super easy to make, but the trick is to use very ripe plantains. So, let’s start with picking the plantains for fried maduros.  

ripe plantains

How To Tell When Plantains Are Ripe 

Plantains are sold in various degrees of ripeness, and all are delicious to make. But the darker the skin, the sweeter they are. They are especially great fried. For fried sweet plantains, you want the skin to have black spots. Actually, nearly black skin makes for the sweetest maduros.  

Sometimes it’s hard to find them this ripe. In that case, you can buy yellow plantains and let them ripen a bit before frying. If you can’t wait, you can make maduros with the yellow plantains. They just won’t be quite as sweet, but they are delicious nonetheless. Yellow plantains are called plátano pinton. 

As a side note, green plantains are also delicious. You can make twice-fried plantains or tostones.

sweet plantains

How To Make Maduros 

Once you have a ripe plantain, you’re ready to make some maduros! Although plantains look like bananas, they are quite different. You have to cook them first because they are not very good raw. Also, peeling them is a little harder. You can’t just peel them like a banana. 

The best way to peel a plantain is to cut off both ends and then cut a slit into the skin lengthwise. For ripe plantain, one or two slits are enough. Then you can insert a knife edge just under the skin and peel it back.  To watch a video on how it’s done, check out my Why I love Cuban Plantains post.

Next, you’ll cut the banana diagonally into half-inch slices. Fry them in medium-hot oil for about three minutes per side. Drain them on paper towels and lightly salt. They are ready to eat.  

maduros

What To Eat With Maduros

Maduros give dishes a sweet and salty component that is addictive. They are delicious with savory dishes like authentic Cuban picadillo, paella mixta and ropa vieja. They can even be added to pizza and sushi!  

Try them and let me know what’s your favorite maduros combo.  

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sweet plantains recipe

How To Make Maduros

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 6
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 68 slices 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Fried sweet plantains, known as maduros, are a very popular Cuban side dish that is perfect with savory meat and chicken entrees. They give your dishes a sweet and salty appeal you’ll love!


Ingredients

Scale

1 Ripe Plantain (skin should be mostly black and flesh should be fairly soft)

Vegetable Oil for Frying

Salt


Instructions

Heat oil over medium heat for a few minutes.

Preheating: While the oil is heating up, peel and slice a ripe plantain.

Peeling: Cut off both ends of the plantain and cut a slight lengthwise. Stick your knife just under the skin and pull the skin off. 

 sweet plantains

Slicing: Cut the plantain diagonally into half-inch slices. One plantain should yield 6-8 slices. 

fried plantains

Frying: Fry the plantains in vegetable oil about 3 sides per side until the skin is a dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels and lightly salt. 


Notes

Serve maduros with savory Cuban dishes like picadillo and ropa vieja

Keywords: maduros, fried sweet plantains, Cuban plantains, sweet plantains, ripe plantains, platanos maduros

Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

The Best Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

This Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup is Mami’s recipe, and it’s eaten at her house every week. Cubans love their black beans and serve it over rice with most meals. In fact, Cuban restaurants have black beans and rice as the typical side with any entrée.

You could say that black beans are the staple of the Cuban diet, at least it was for me growing up. Old-time Cubans think that eating rice without beans is too dry and forget about eating any entrée without rice! You’d think in a tropical climate like Cuba they would not be eating bean soups so often, but it’s their go to, no matter the temperature outside.

I don’t eat Cuban black beans as often as I used to growing up, but you can bet I have a few servings stashed in my freezer for quick black beans whenever the comfort food mood strikes. Mami (aka Bean Train) usually makes it for me and freezes it in little one-cup care packages. 

Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

Authentic Cuban Black Beans Are Simple And Easy To Make

Traditional Cuban black bean soup is a basic dish with just a few ingredients. I know many recipes call for tomatoes and such, but that’s not very traditional. An authentic Cuban black beans recipe has the traditional sofrito made with onions, peppers, and garlic. Seasonings include bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Some Cuban recipes also use salt pork, but it’s optional. You can easily make vegan black bean soup by omitting the pork. 

While you can cook the beans on the stovetop, my mom always used a pressure cooker. Now I use an Instant Pot, but either method cuts down the cooking time significantly. 

Soaking and Cooking The Beans

Most Cuban recipes call for soaking the beans for a few hours or overnight. This makes the beans cook faster, breaks down complex sugars that make beans hard to digest, and removes harmful lectins. To learn more about how to cook beans, check out this New York Times article.

Cuban black beans and picadillo

The Best Way to Eat Cuban Black Beans

You can enjoy a bowl of black beans as a soup. They are healthy and delicious. But most Cubans eat their beans over rice, as I mentioned earlier. It’s paired with just about any entrée, but it’s the best with picadillo or ropa vieja. A bowl of white rice, black beans, and picadillo is Cuban comfort food for me!

These beans freeze well, and you can keep them in the freezer for six months if they last that long. That way, you can always make it a part of any meal. My son likes to turn it into refried beans for nachos or enchiladas. 

You can also top the beans with avocado, cilantro, or a little pico de gallo and make your simple bean soup into a meal. I hope you enjoy making my Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup ?

¡Buen provecho!

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Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

The Best Cuban Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Cuban black bean soup is the quintessential Cuban dish! This authentic recipe is super easy to make, with just a few simple ingredients. We usually serve it with rice as a side dish, but it’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own. 


Ingredients

Scale

14 oz package dried black beans

2 bay leaves

1 green bell pepper

½ white onion (1 cup chopped)

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 ounce salt pork (about ½ cup chopped)

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cumin


Instructions

Soaking: Soak black beans in water and a pinch of salt for 4 hours or overnight. 

Instant Pot: Rinse the beans and add to the Instant Pot along 8 cups of water, 2 bay leaves ½ green pepper, seeds, and ribs removed. Set the Instant Pot to pressure for 25 minutes. Make sure the steam valve is sealed. It will take about 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to build pressure, and then it will cook for 25 minutes. Once it’s done, allow the steam to release naturally, which should take about 10 minutes or so.

Prep: While the steam is releasing. Chop half a white onion, crush the garlic, chop the salt pork, and cut the remaining half green pepper into 6 large pieces (I remove these later, but if you want to leave in, you can chop the pepper finely). 

Sauté:

  • Set a saute pan on medium heat and add a few tablespoons of water and salt pork once heated.
  • Let it cook until the fat is rendered and the pork is browned for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add one tablespoon olive oil and let it heat up for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onions, garlic, and pepper and sauté until onions are softened about 5 minutes. 

Black Beans: Once the steam has been released, open the Instant Pot and add the salt pork, sauteed vegetables, and seasonings. Set the Instant Pot to sauté and cook for 30 minutes if you like your beans brothy or 45 minutes for thicker beans. 

Finishing: Once the beans are cooked to your desired thickness, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Adjust seasoning as desired. 

Serve with white rice. 

Makes 10 one-cup servings. 



Notes

These beans freeze well and can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. 

Stovetop Directions: If you’re not using an Instant Pot, you can simmer the beans on the stove top for an hour. Then add the sofrito, salt pork and seasonings and cook on low-medium heat until desired consistency. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 10

Keywords: instant pot black bean soup, cuban black beans, authentic cuban black beans, authentic cuban black beans recipe

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

Description

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). 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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  

Instructions

  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.  


Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: half cup

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

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