Moros y Cristianos (Cuban Black Beans)
When I was in Cuba earlier this spring, I noticed a distinct lack of vegetables. I don’t actually love vegetables all that much, but they were noticeably absent in dishes that should have them, like the classic Cuban black beans called Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians). When asked to make Cuban food for our reunion party from the trip, I was determined to make the dishes the way I think Cubans would make them if they had the ingredients available.Some black bean recipes call for smoked ham hock, but I opted for some salt pork and a little Liquid Smoke to add the smoky flavor. You’ll remove this at the end, keeping only that very small bit of meat to return to the beans, but it will add great depth of flavor.The other important ingredient is high quality turtle or black beans. Buy them dried for the best texture, and be sure to soak them overnight and discard the soaking water. All of those bubbles that will appear on the surface of the water after soaking them shows you some of the gases you are removing from the beans by soaking them.The rest of the dish comes together rather quickly and easily, and if you serve it right after cooking it will have a vibrant color like this from the cilantro and tomatoes. If you let it sit overnight, the colors will become more muted but it will be equally delicious. This recipe is for a large party – scale the ingredients as needed for your own group.
- 5 cups dried black beans
- 12 ounces salt pork, cut in quarters
- 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound bacon, chopped
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 tablespoons chicken demi glace
- 1 cup mixed minced cilantro
- Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
- The night before you wish to cook the beans, add the beans to a very large stockpot and cover with at least 4 inches of water. Let stand until the next day.
- When you're ready to cook the beans, drain beans and place in a large saucepan along with the salt pork, Liquid Smoke, and bay leaves. Cover with water a couple of inches above the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, skimming off any foam, until the beans are tender, adding water if necessary, 1½ to 2 hours. Remove the salt pork and set aside. Discard bay leaves and add the salt. Drain the beans, retaining 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
- While the beans are cooking, cook the bacon over medium high heat until very crisp. Remove from pan and set aside; drain off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the onions and peppers to the Dutch oven and cook in the bacon fat until the pepper is soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, the cooked beans, tomatoes, and chicken demi glace. Finely chop the meat portion of the salt pork and add it to the beans; discard the fat. Add half of the bean cooking liquid and cook over medium-high heat for15 minutes; if the mixture dries out, add a bit more liquid. Stir in the cilantro, garnish with chopped parsley if desired, and serve with cumin scented yellow rice.