Friday, December 28, 2018

Moros y Cristianos (in a hurry) – good luck to you !

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Simple ingredients, magical food !

I learned to tango in the basement of a Dublin pub some years ago. When I say “learned” I mean my head learned quite a bunch of fancy steps but failed to pass this new knowledge on to the rest of me.

However, I quickly came to understand that if you learn the general shape of the dance and can follow a lead AND you have the great fortune to be landed with a good dance partner, you’re laughing. If not, lean down and whisper this excellent piece of advice to your tender little toes: “Rrrrruuuuuunnnnnnnnnn!”

Some of the great partnerships that come to mind are: Fred ‘n’ Ginger, Travolta ‘n’ Newton-John, Swayze ‘n’ Grey, Bacon ‘n’ Eggs, Fish ‘n’ Chips, and - the non-pc - Moros y Cristianos, aka black beans and rice.

This dish has been around in some form or other for so long that its origins are hazy, but it widely agreed that it acquired the name sometime during the complicated history that saw Spain conquered by the Moors, then reconquered by the Christians. It is a popular Cuban dish and variations are enjoyed all over South America – as well as in the US.

It is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day - for good luck (although probably more in the sense that “If you think you can find something else in the cupboard at this time of year other than black beans and rice, then good luck to you.”) 

This is my quick version. It is humble fare but a welcome break from all the recent feasting!

For approximately 6 servings as a main, or 10 as a side, you will need…

300g basmati rice
1 x 400g can of black beans (turtle beans)
approximately 700mls* chicken stock
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200g pancetta or bacon, diced
I stick celery, peeled of stringy bits and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced
I green pepper, finely diced
3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin

2 bay leaves

a little salt to taste, if necessary

a little chopped coriander (optional)

First, rinse the rice in plenty of cold water and leave to soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Drain the water from the beans into a measuring jug and make up this muddy-looking liquid to 800mls in total with chicken stock. (You may need a little more or a little less depending on how much liquid you get from the beans.) Leave to one side while you prepare the vegetables.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the pancetta or bacon. Fry gently until cooked, then add the celery, onion and peppers. Continue to cook gently for about 5 minutes or until any excess liquid - released by the peppers - has evaporated.

Add the garlic, cumin and paprika and continue to cook for a further minute before adding the bean liquid and stock mixture. Bring to simmering and add the soaked, drained rice along with the beans and bay leaves.

Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes or until all the rice is cooked and the liquid has evaporated. Taste and add salt only if necessary. Turn off the heat. Cover with a clean teacloth and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving with a sprinkling of coriander if desired.

Wishing you a delicious 2014 !
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  1. Now I know what's on the menu with our steaks tonight. I'm looking forward to some good luck now thanks to you! Have a terrific New Year Hester! I always enjoy my visits to your blog. :)

  2. Having lived in Florida for many years where you can find Moros y Cristianos on most menus, I can tell you that your dish looks way better than what you will find there.

  3. When I was young, dancing was fun and I was pretty good at it but now? my feet don't listen to my brain OR the music. :)

    Happy New Year! When I lived in the South it was always black beans and rice.

  4. Your black beans and rice look delicious - the colors are pretty and with the bacon it must be really good! Wishing you a happy and delicious 2014!

  5. This is the prettiest black beans and rice ever! We don't eat anything traditional on NYD, but I may need to start now! Hope your new year is off to a terrific start!!! xo

  6. This has to be the "good-luck" rice! I can imagine the tango of basmati aroma with the texture and the completeness that black beans provide to the dish! YUM!!

  7. I love black beans and rice! I have several different versions that I make, and at Christmas our new Jamaican niece brought another version with coconut milk and scotch bonnet peppers. Now I can add yours to the list!

  8. Don't you love a good tango! The tango was the dance of choice at one of my daughters weddings as their wedding dance! Have not come across this dish before but hey I can see this easily adapted using left over ham from Christmas. Love it.

  9. And good luck to you! We ate pork and sauerkraut for our New Year's good luck, a tradition as grounded as turkey on Thanksgiving for us. Now, why didn't I ever learn to tango!

  10. Hester...I will gladly try your version of black beans and rice because first of looks fabulous! AND...I could use all the luck I can get. And kudos to you for even taking the tango lessons in the first place! Hope your new year is a happy and healthy one! : )

  11. I laughed on the Bacon n' Eggs. I hope Kevin lives forever, otherwise our food would not taste the same without him. Hahaha! Kidding aside, I love this Cuban rice dish. And with the pancetta. . . oh yes. Happy New Year Hester! :)

  12. Your story re: tango cracked me up! I took a couple of classes years ago and was horrible! The teacher told me I moved my hips too much (since when is that a bad thing!?!?) Haha! Thanks for sharing this delectable rice dish with us! HUGS!

  13. Dancing has never been my thing and it's mainly because how you described - exactly. I see it and understand in the head but my body doesn't have good beat and can't seem to follow. Sigh! And I love your imagination of why this dish is considered "good luck food"! Haha, it's great we can make great food out of ingredients we have in the kitchen, and it looks delicious!!

  14. Simply delicious, i love basmati rice all the way...
    i used to eat it'g grain one by one once i was a kiddo, LoL


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