A Cuban sweet-savory side from Chicago chef Randy Zweiban.
What to buy: Be sure to use unsweetened coconut milk, available at most grocery stores; we’ve found that Thai brands work best. And look for plantains that are well mottled or all black—they’re much sweeter that way.
Game plan: Start soaking the beans the day before you want to make this dish.
- 1Sauté bacon with canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until bacon renders most of its fat. Add all vegetables and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and slightly caramelized.
- 2Drain beans and add them to the pan along with bay leaf, cumin, coriander, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer beans uncovered until completely tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Make sure beans stay completely covered with liquid during cooking; add water if needed.
- 3When beans are ready, strain them, reserving the cooking liquid. Return cooking liquid to the stove and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, then stir back into the cooling beans. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the coconut rice:
- 1Heat canola oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft and translucent.
- 2Add water and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and bring mixture to a boil. Season with salt and white pepper.
- 3Reduce heat to medium-low to keep mixture at a simmer. Tightly cover the saucepan, and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, approximately 20 minutes. Remove rice from heat and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff rice with a fork.
For the fried plantains:
- 1Peel plantains, and quarter them lengthwise. Slice the 8 strips of plantain into about 8 pieces each.
- 2Melt butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When it starts to foam, add plantains. Sauté plantains until they are tender and edges are golden. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then remove to a paper towel to drain.
- 3To serve, combine beans with coconut rice and plantains.
Beverage pairing: Elsa Torrontes, Argentina. Argentina is mostly associated with big red wines, but it is also capable of producing lovely, aromatic whites such as this one from the grape called Torrontes. This medium-to-light bodied wine has floral, spice, and apple notes that liven the sweet/savory elements of the recipe and lift the density of the beans.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.