Cuban Congrí aka Arroz Moro

arroz-moro

Congrí called by any other name still taste as delicious…moros, congri, arroz moro, moros y cristianos…call them what you will- congrí is still a Cuban soul food staple to be enjoyed at any meal. This recipe is for a lazy person’s congrí. I feel accomplished enough when I cook nowadays, like I deserve a shiny medal for coming home exhausted from work and cooking an honest meal. I recently started working regular hours aka 7 to 6ish, and it is seriously more exhausting than when I was working irregular hospitality hours. I know, I know, everyone is rolling their eyes saying “We know this already Ash, the Monday to Friday hustle is brutal. Welcome to the club sister”. Well, I just got here so take pity on my newbie soul!

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My congrí is cutting corners, aka I am using canned beans. This won’t make your rice as black as traditional Cuban congrí or as dry, but honestly it tastes exactly the same. Making the beans is a mission and tacks on an extra 30 min to an hour (plus more dishes) and that is frankly time I just don’t have right now.

moros

Arroz moro or congrí is my preferred Cuban side dish. I always order “moro y maduros” with any main dish- Churrassco, Palomia, Bistec Empanizado, or Pollo a la plancha are best with congrí. For some reason I wouldn’t have congrí with masa de Puerco, ropa vieja, or vaca frita but that is just me (and I like to think I am an expert ‘orderer’). Congrí is the red beans and rice to Cuban soul food, and makes me feel like there is a little slice of home right here in my kitchen. Short cut or not- this congrí is still damn delicious and has Cuban goodness packed into each bite.

sunny-side-up

Cuban Congrí aka Moros aka Moros y Cristianos

  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 ¾ cups black bean stock
  • Pork chunks (optional)
  • Lime wedge garnish
  • Olive oil

Make the sofrito with the bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Add olive oil to a large pot and add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until translucent; add half the salt and pepper. Add 2-3 of the garlic cloves finely minced reserving some for later. Add the cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook 2-4 more minutes. Drain the black beans and reserve the black bean liquid for later.

sofrito-ready-for-congrugreen-bell-pepper rice-for-congri

Add the rice stirring well for 2-3 minutes in the pot to incorporate the oil, sofrito, and seasonings (much like a risotto). Add the black bean water, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and stir well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

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After you have added the black beans, heat two teaspoons of olive oil or butter. Add the remaining garlic and quickly sautee. Set aside. When the moros are done stir in the sautéed garlic. Plate the congrí or arroz moros with a lime wedge on the side. Serve with your favorite Cuban dish like bistec empanizado, bistec palomia, roasted chicken, pollo a la pancha, or just enjoy with fried eggs like we did. Fried eggs are not a normal accompaniment, but I love them. Congrí goes great with platanos maduros or tostones as well.

congri-with-a-fried-egg

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Pink Peppercorn Paloma

pink-palomas

Mezcal, pretty pink peppercorns, and an aromatic vanilla bean salted rim join in happy union with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice over ice. I’ve been on a cocktail kick lately with sundress and sandal weather on my mind and am desperate for spring to actually grace us with her presence. Although there are daffodils, hyacinth and tulips galore in New York City, old man winter is having the final word with gusty cold winds and threats of spring snow.

fresh-grapefruitgrapefruit-grindperfect-pink-peppercornsmezcal-yaas

Hillstone makes their paloma with pink peppercorns and the combination really is fantastic. Citrus spiced pink peppercorns pop in the paloma; their flavor adds gentle heat. Smoky mezcal with grapefruit and pink peppercorns make for a delicious paloma with a vanilla bean salt rim that brings it up a notch.

vanilla-salt-rimmed-paloma

Mezcal is tequila’s smoky brother, but keep in mind that just like tequilas not all mezcals are made equal. For this paloma I used a light mezcal  with a subtle smoky nose. The sommelier from my restaurant brought me this bottle back from Mexico and I couldn’t resist putting it to good use. Up next I’m thinking pineapple-thyme Mexican 75s with mezcal instead of gin and passion fruit jalapeno combinations too.

mezcal-paloma

Pink Peppercorn Paloma

  • 2.0 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 oz mezcal or tequila or even vodka
  • Squeeze of lime
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup

Paloma Garnish

  • Lemon twist
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean scraped

To make simple syrup blend one part water to one part sugar and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape half of a vanilla bean and mix with sea salt. Run a lime wedge over the rim of the glass and dip in the vanilla salt to coat the rim for the paloma. Freshly squeeze your grapefruits. As a proud Floridian I urge you to actually squeeze your fruit, store-bought is never ever ever the same as fresh.

paloma-ingredientsvanilla-saltpink-peppercorn-popmezcal-pink-peppercorn-and-vanilla-salt-rim

Use 8-10 whole pink peppercorns per cocktail. Pour your ingredients into a shaker over ice and shake well. In a vanilla salted glass, pour over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon twist. This would also be great served up in a chilled martini or coup glass. Cheers!

perfect-picture-of-paloma

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Guava Margaritas with a Smoky Salt Rim

up-close-and-smoky

My guava love saga continues with tequila, grand marnier, and a smoky salted rim. The brief appearance of spring in New York City has lifted my spirits and instantaneously put a skip in my step. Spring is that magical time of year when the city comes back to life and the parks and rooftops are brimming with pale New Yorkers. As the bodegas fill up with tulips and daffodils, I feel inspired wear espadrilles and to sip spirits in the sun. Guava margaritas will have you celebrating spring and cure your winter blues in one smoky sip.

spring-is-in-the-airsmoked-rimpour-into-salted-high-ballspicture-perfectguava-margaritas

Tequila reminds me of Miami and bright beach days with dirty coronas and late nights. In these guava margaritas, the sweetness of the guava is offset by the smoked paprika and the hot cayenne in the salted rim. I topped this spring cocktail with grapefruit soda, but prosecco or champagne would be killer. Apparently it is set to snow this Sunday, so I’ll enjoy this sunny spring preview with smoky guava margaritas and homemade Cuban food.

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Guava Margaritas with Smoked Salt Rim

Makes 2

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce grand marnier
  • 2 teaspoons guava marmelade or guava sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Top with grapefruit soda, prosecco, or champagne

Smoked Salt Rim

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the salt rim ingredients on a flat plate. Run a lime over the rim of the glass and salt the rim. In a shaker over ice add the tequila, grand marnier, guava marmelade, and lime juice. Shake well and pour over fresh ice in the salted highballs. Top with a floater of grapefruit soda (I used San Pellegrino Pommelo) but prosecco or champagne would work well. Garnish the guava margaritas with a lime wheel and cheers to spring!

ingredientsguava-margaritas-are-saucyguava-margstop-off-with-prosecco

Note: Mezcal would be amazing in these guava margaritas, but I had silver tequila on hand. I bet this could also be batched as a signature cocktail for a spring or summer party using both grapefruit soda and prosecco to make plenty for a crowd.

picture-perfect

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