Sunday, May 6, 2012

Saffron Rice with Black Beans

Yesterday we had a great Cinco party with friends and neighbors, and although the skies opened up on us with a torrential rain (which we really needed) it didn't dampen anyone's spirits... perhaps due to the pineapple mango jalapeno margaritas we were drinking!

We prepared beer braised carnitas, guacamole and several different salsas, but the dish everyone really kept asking about was this simple rice and bean side dish.  It is not spicy hot, but has a lovely fragrance from the cinnamon and saffron.  It's the perfect accompaniment to a spicy latin meal. Even 4-year-old Ruby had TWO massive helpings!

At the insistance of my guests, I am blogging this recipe.  The only strange ingredient is the achiote (pronounced ah-chee-oh tay).  This is a finely ground powder made from annato seeds, it is red-orange in color and can be found at any latin market.  It is also called bijol powder or ground annato.  It is hard for me to describe the flavor of achiote, its very mildly spicy but not at all hot, and tastes a little nutty.  I just know this, it makes latin food taste, well, latin and everything is better with it!

100 g of achiote will cost you about $2.00

Annato seeds, from which achiote is made

Saffron Rice with Black Beans
serves 12

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp achiote (bijol or ground annato)
pinch (5 or 6 strands) saffron
1 small onion diced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
1 12 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed under cold water
3 scallions, green and white parts cut into rings

In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil over high heat.  Add rice and toast in hot oil, stirring constantly until rice becomes opaque. Reduce heat to medium high, add cinnamon, achiote and saffron, sir to coat rice.

Add onions and stir.  Add chicken stock, garlic and salt and honey, and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute , uncovered.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover pan with lid.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large serving bowl.  Fold in beans and scallions.  Serve warm or at room temperature

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