What’s for dinner: Cuban Black-Bean Stew with Rice

Click on the image to go to the recipe on the Everyday Food website.

At first I was going to start with a thing about what happens in people’s heads when they’re in a meeting that is scheduled to end by 5 p.m. (From the very beginning you catch yourself thinking, “Is this topic the one that inevitably takes too long and pushes us past 5?” even though you’ve never planned to leave before 6 anyway. You could hold a meeting solely about the various ways I am awesome and incredible, and I would still have to fight the urge to look at the clock.)

However, the real point was this: I got home later than expected today. So I needed this recipe to not be like a few others, where they promise it can be done in a half-hour but neglect to mention that’s if you’ve already peeled, cored and diced a cornucopia’s worth of produce and, oh, remember those frozen beans? They need to be thawed.

Luckily, this worked perfectly.

Cost of ingredients: $7.03 (including the optional radishes). I already had the rice, olive oil, garlic, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, limes, cilantro (growing outside!) and oregano (ditto).

By the way, was there some sort of red-pepper climate emergency I wasn’t aware of? Why are they $2 each? It’s not like they’re organic mangos. You can buy a pound of tropically grown bananas for like 79 cents, and a single red pepper is $2? I need to investigate the requirements for cultivating in a garden. In our hot climate, they should grow like weeds — and jalapeños.

Substitutions: Fresh oregano instead of dried.

As easy as they said? After dicing the inevitable red pepper, onion and garlic, yes.  But because I am impatient and also wanted to ensure a better-looking final product, during the stage where they suggest mashing the beans against the end of a spoon (which isn’t really too efficient, since they haven’t cooked that long and are still relatively firm) I just scooped up a glass measuring cup’s worth of everything and dropped it into the blender, then poured the blended sauce back into the pot to give it a thicker texture.

How’d THAT turn out? Surprisingly good, considering the speed and ingredients. I had feared it would be a little too watery and gruel-ish, but that was not the case, and the blender trick helped. We did need a little seasoning with salt at the table, so I sprinkled with kosher salt and it was perfect.

Would I make it again? I would. Between the rice maker and the single pan, it was a win-win situation. The radishes were a nice touch — I didn’t bother with limes or cilantro because I didn’t think it was spicy enough to warrant “the full Cuban treatment.”

WHAT SAM WORE: 03-24-10
The shirt: Cotton polo shirt by Le Tigre, from Buffalo Exchange.
The pants: Boot-cut khakis from Banana Republic.
They’re gray because someone once told me you shouldn’t wear
a green shirt and brown pants, “or you look like a tree. Or a mushroom.”
The shoes: Trainers by Diesel, from Last Chance.
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