A bowl of black beans and rice is pure comfort food, at least for me. It was one of the first dishes I attempted to make in college, though I should point out that it usually entailed nothing more than opening a can of beans, mixing in some rice, and calling it a day. I've progressed beyond that point, but I'm always looking for new tricks, because while the concept sounds simple, it's surprisingly easy to end up with a batch that is dry and flavorless.
The easiest way to add flavor is to toss in something meaty, but add too much and you'll risk making things greasy. It's a balancing act. Bacon carries most of the load here, but it gets some help from some chicken stock, which lends a savory edge without clobbering you over the head. I also picked up a trick from this gallo pinto rice recipe, and decided to add some Worcestershire sauce. From there, I focused on the one element that usually gets forgotten—acid. For this recipe, I used some apple cider vinegar, which helps cut through everything else.
- 4 ounces bacon (about 4 slices), sliced thinly
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 Serrano pepper, stemmed seeded, chopped (about 2 tablespoons
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
- 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
Cook bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat.
Add onion, red bell pepper, and serrano, and cook until onion is soft and starting to take on some color, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and few cracks of black pepper. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in rice and cook until most of the grains turn chalky white, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add black beans, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and cook until the rice is completely cooked, stirring after 10 minutes or so, 15 to 20 minutes total. Garnish with sliced green scallions and the cooked bacon.