Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Puerto Rican Rice and Plantains

Last night we had an incredible dinner at the home of our friends the Negróns. Nelson is from Puerto Rico and his wife Kristine has lived there for several years as well. They served us roast pork, cabbage and tomato salad, fried plantains, and rice. Not just rice, but the best rice we've ever eaten. It was delicious, and I had to stop myself from eating it only when I became conscious of taking a third serving. Lucky for me, they sent us home with some leftovers.

While the entire meal was outstanding, my second favorite item was the fried plantains, which I've not eaten enough of in the past. They are so easy to make, and I'm not even going to give you directions, just pictures:

That's simple enough, right? They are so good. When we lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I used to go to this place called Bev's Caribbean, and she would serve fried plantains and fried sweet potatoes with a delicious mango chutney. It was just heaven.

So, the rice is a little difficult to explain. I can't tell you what about it makes it so wonderful, but it's more addictive than the Colonel's chicken. It's definitely due in part to the salt pork, but the red beans just seem to belong to the dish as well. The addition of stuffed green olives may seem foreign to some, but they also just fit in. I think what it comes down to is that every part of this dish is in just enough proportion to blend with and not overpower the others. It is definitely worth the time. So, here is the recipe, as given to me.

Arroz Mamposteado

2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. green pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T. cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 c. salt pork, cubed
1/2 c. cooking ham, cubed
1 large onion, diced
1 c. cooked red beans
3 T. tomato sauce
3 bay leaves
1/4 c. green olives (stuffed)
*2 1/2 c. cooked white rice (medium grain), prepared with salt and a little oil in a medium saucepan and set aside

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the green pepper, garlic, cilantro, salt pork, ham, and onion. Sauté until the onions are clear.

Add the red beans, tomato sauce, bay leaves, and olives. Simmer about 2 minutes. Add mixture to the cooked rice. Mix well.

Let cook over medium-low for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

And you'd better double the recipe.

*I prepare my medium grain rice with the following ratios: 1 3/4 c. rice to 2 1/4 c. water.

I forgot to mention they served flan for dessert. Puerto Rican flan is made a bit differently than most Mexican flan recipes, from what I've heard. It was smooth and creamy and just what flan should be. And I'll be posting about it tomorrow.

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