Friday, June 15, 2012

Jamaican Rice and Peas

This is called rice and peas, but it's really more like rice and beans. This can be made with pigeon peas or cowpeas, if you want it to be more pea-y and less beany.
It makes a good dinner with just a vegetable on the side, but if you're feeling fancy, or trying to impress someone, it's pretty great served with some jerk tofu. And beer. I guess Red Stripe would be a classic pairing, but I'm drinking Peak Summer Session and it goes just fine, thank you! (I know wine pairings are classy, but what about beer pairings?)
The scotch bonnet peppers in this recipe are really hot, but don't worry because you don't eat the whole peppers in this dish. Rather, you cut a small slit in the skin of the pepper, which allows some flavor and heat to infuse the rice, but not in a way that makes fire come out your ears. Then when it's time to eat, just remove the scotch bonnet. Its really not very spicy at all, and the creamy coconut . milk mellows everything down considerably.
Look for scotch bonnets in a Caribbean market. They can be hard to find, depending on where you live, so you can substitute a habaƱero or even a couple of minced jalapeƱos.

Anyway, here's what you need:
1 heavy-bottomed saucepan
1 can coconut milk
1 can red or 1 cup cooked red kidney beans
2 cups basmati rice (that's how I like it but use any long-grain rice, just know that brown rice takes 40 minutes instead of 20)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
3 scallions
1 clove garlic
1/2 inch  piece of ginger
1 tsp. kosher salt, or 3/4 tsp. regular salt

Now, to cook it:
1.  Put the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow this to soak while you prep the other ingredients.
Wash the scallion and pepper. Trim the roots off the scallions (just the hairy part not the whole white part) and slice them. Cut a slit in the scotch bonnet. Throw those into the pot.
2. Pour the coconut milk into a measuring cup, add enough water to make 3 1/4 cups, and add those to the pot. Add the salt. Grate in the ginger and garlic (or mince if you prefer.) Drain, rinse, and add the beans. Bring everything to a gentle boil. Drain the rice and add that in. You can stir it once or twice but not too much cause it will break the rice, and then it'll be mushy.
3. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes (that's when I go to the bodega for beer, if that gives you an idea of the timing.) Fluff with a fork and serve.
4. Eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
5. And the day after that, cause it makes a lot.

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