Monday, January 23, 2012

Dominican Coconut Rice

Let me start by saying that I make no claims to be a food blogger, nor am I a food photographer. Clearly. But I do love food and pulling out old recipes that had been more or less forgotten. And of course my inner child still likes to pretend I'm a celebrity chef with my own cooking show. That's totally normal (I'm telling you, not asking). The cats seem to enjoy it anyway. Maybe they are just hoping for a free sample, but that's neither here nor there.

I got a craving for this rice and whipped up and huge batch last night. I took it for lunch today, and fortunately my coworkers loved it too. There's no way I could eat it all, and my dear husband won't go near it since it has "fruit" in it. Let me clarify that. Coconut milk. It has coconut milk in it. In any case, he wants nothing to do with it. Which is fine. More for me. And my work friends. Yay for us.

I've had this recipe for many years now, thanks to my beautiful friend Kelli (who I miss very, very much!). Her step-dad is from the Dominican Republic and this is apparently one of his family recipes. I love it so much and thought it would be fun to share with the few of you who actually read the nonsense I post here. The "recipe" is more like a list of ingredients, so a bit of improvisation is typically in order. If you want to give it a try, here's what you'll need:

Bacon (a few pieces depending on how thick they are)
Garlic (fresh or jarred, whatever you have on hand)
Jalapeno pepper
Coconut milk (2 cans or so)
Canned diced tomatoes
Cilantro
Kidney beans (canned or rehydrated, whatever floats your boat)
Regular white rice
Salt

Step 1. Chop up the bacon and fry with the jalapeno and garlic (I only used 1/2 the pepper cut into pieces so small they were almost invisible. I am a spicy super-wuss and can't even bear the spice level in a Chipotle burrito without dousing it in sour cream and guac) In retrospect, the cast iron was probably not the best choice of pot--unless you like when the bottom of your pan burns and you have to take your soggy bacon/pepper/garlic mixture out of the pot to clean it and then replace for the rest of the recipe and are too fearful of burning again and just move on to the next step with soggy bacon. Or turn the heat down. Your choice. I'll probably use a non-stick next time.

Step 2. Add about 1/2 cup of coconut milk, tomatoes (WITH the juice!) and a handful of cilantro, and let it cook down for a few minutes. I wish I had used more cilantro. You can never have too much. Pile it in there.

Step 3. Add the rest of the coconut milk, beans, 2 cups of rice (or maybe less) and a bunch of salt. If you think you added enough salt, add some more. Trust me. I don't like to use a lot of salt, but you will thank me later. It's easier to incorporate into this liquid stage than it is the finished product.

Step 4. Now the tricky part. Cook until the rice is done. You think I'm kidding, but this is harder than it sounds. It takes longer than the 20ish minutes the rice package tells you. I can't tell you how long because I forgot to look at the clock. I told you I'm no professional food blogger. And my cooking show would probably fail miserably. Just keep a lid on it and check it every now and then. Adjust the heat as necessary so it's not boiling, but we need to see some action there. And don't let it get too dried out. I had to add water a couple times to keep it "liquidy" enough for the rice to cook through. I think using more milk and/or tomato juice and/or less rice may have helped, but give it a try and just see what works. No magical measurements happening in my kitchen. When it's finished it might look something like this. Or it might look different. Who cares. It will be delicious!
Enjoy!

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