Cuban Rice Cooked in Black Beans

This is one of my absolute favorite dishes, great as a main or side.  I usually make this with carnitas or fish tacos, and then take the leftovers to lunch for a week. 🙂  I got this recipe eons ago from Epicurious, originally from a book called “Latin Grilling,” and I love it exactly how it is written.  A very festive and flavorful way to make rice.  You could lighten this up by using some turkey bacon, and I have tried this with brown rice as well as white…brown rice was also excellent.  Just required more cooking time of course.

•    4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
•    1/4 pound bacon (about 6 strips), chopped
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
•    1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
•    1 bay leaf
•    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
•    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•    1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
•    2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, not drained
•    1 3/4 cups water
•    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place the bacon and olive oil in a large pot and set it over medium-high heat. Sauté the bacon until it renders its fat and turns a golden brown color, about 6 minutes. Move the bacon around as it’s cooking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic paste to the bacon and sauté until the vegetables are limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, the bay leaf, cumin, oregano, and rice and stir for 1 minute until well mixed and all the rice is coated in oil.
Add the beans and their liquid, along with the water and vinegar, to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed by the rice. Allow the covered pot to sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

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