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
- 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.
- 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 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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