Moros y Cristianos (Black Beans and Rice)
(serves 8 - 10)
Soak overnight:
1 1/2 c black beans, in
6 c water
     
Bring the beans to a boil and simmer until they are just tender, about 60 - 90 minutes.  When the beans are cooked, you can measure the remaining liquid and add enough water to make 3 cups (one and a half times the amount of white rice you're going to add).
   
To make the sofrito, saute in a little olive oil, over low heat:
3 cloves garlic, mashed
1 medium onion, diced
3 small cherry peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
   
  Cook for around 15 minutes, then add:
2 t allspice
2 t cumin
1 - 2 t salt
1 - 2 medium tomatoes, diced
   
Cook until the tomatoes are soft and most of the water has evaporated, then add the beans and their water, with:
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped finely
1 T cider vinegar
   
    Stir in:
2 c white rice, rinsed well
 
Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for another 15 minutes or so, until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed.  Serve immediately.
Notes & Variations:
  1. Literally "Moors and Christians", this is a staple dish in Cuba.
  2. Be sure to sift through the black beans very carefully.  It is very common for a few small rocks to be hidden among them.  It's a good idea to rinse them, too, before soaking.
  3. You can substitute a green pepper or fresh poblano chili for the cherry peppers.
  4. Many Cuban cookbooks suggest using oregano instead of cilantro.
  5. The proportion of beans to rice can be varied according to taste.  Try using other bean varieties.  Dark red kidney beans are traditionally used in the Santiago area, and the result is called congri.
  6. Try stirring in a hefty splash of rum when you turn off the heat to finish cooking the rice.