By Lori Ross
1 cups brown rice
2 cups water or beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 scallions minced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 bell pepper seeded and diced
1 fresh jalapeno seeded and minced (any color or half red/half greed)
½ tsp liquid smoke or 1 cup diced lean cooked ham
1 tomato chopped or 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp each of dried oregano and ground cumin
3 tbsp of chopped cilantro or parsley
1 tbsp salt and 2 teaspoons pepper
4 cups cooked beans – black beans are traditional
To Make Rice: Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover tightly, reduce heat to very low, and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is tender.
Make the sofrito:
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, scallions, garlic, peppers, liquid smoke or ham, and sauté for 7 minutes stirring often. Stir in chopped tomato and vinegar with remaining spices and herbs. Reduce to medium and cook 5 minutes more. Add cooked beans to sofrito and simmer uncovered until the mixture becomes thick (20-30 minutes). Add cooked brown rice and remove from heat. Serve at once.
- Jamaican: Replace black beans with kidney beans and add 1 tsp minced garlic and 3-4 slices of jalapeno peppers
- Hopping John: Replace black beans with black-eyed peas and add a celery stalk to sofrito, plus 1 tsp each of dried thyme, ground coriander plus 2 whole cloves and 1 stick of cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg at end of cooking.
- Cajun: Replace black with red beans and add 1 stalk of celery to sofrito, plus 1 tsp each of cayenne pepper, white pepper, paprika; ½ tsp oregano, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp dry mustard. Sprinkle dish with Tabasco sauce.
- West Indian Coconut Rice and Peas: Replace half the water with lite coconut milk, add one whole scotch bonnet or jalapeno pepper (uncut), replace black beans with pigeon peas or chickpeas and add 1/4 tsp of allspice and dried thyme.