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Yes, Moros y Cristianos, the common Cuban name for this ubiquitous side dish, translates as "Moors and Christians." And yes, the black beans are taken for the dark-skinned Moors while the white rice grains are the lighter-complected Christians. And that's all I have to say about that. The resting step at the end helps make the rice moist yet fluffy.
See all rice recipes.
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- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large Spanish onion, diced
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 serrano chiles, seeds and ribs removed, diced finely
- 10 plum tomatoes, diced
- 4 Teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted then ground
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 Cups long-grain white rice
- Two 15-ounce cans black beans, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1/4 Cup cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Calories Per Serving385
Folate equivalent (total)95µg24%
Moros y Cristianos recipe
A few days ago, I shared my secrets to making the perfect (to me) Cuban sandwich, one of which was a succulent and juicy, marinated roast pork or lechon asado. But, man (or woman) cannot live by Cuban sandwiches alone. No, no, no! One also needs a few fabulously delicious Cuban side dishes to complement those sandwiches. And, Moros y Cristianos is one of them.
Moros y Cristianos is the Cuban version of rice and beans. It translates to English as Moors and Christians. This interesting title is presumed to be a reference to the period during the Middle Ages called the Reconquista, when the Moors occupied the Iberian Peninsula, and the Spanish won it back. The black beans represent the Moors, who were dark-skinned, and the white rice represents the Christians, who were light-skinned. Since Cuba was colonized by the Spanish in the early 1500s, and since Spain continues to have a strong influence on Cuban culture, the name has stuck.
Though just as traditional, this dish differs from the seasoned black beans over rice you might find on the menus of various Cuban restaurants. To make Moros y Cristianos,
a sofrito of onions, peppers and garlic is first prepared. The beans and either water or broth are added and are simmered until the beans are tender. Then, the rice is added right to the same pot and cooked with the beans and vegetables. Its a perfect one pot dish!
As with the lechon asado, the recipe Ive used for my Moros y Christianos is adapted from Three Guys from Miami. To make this dish a little more user friendly and realistic for a quick weeknight meal, Ive used canned black beans in this recipe instead of dried. Ive made it both ways, and trust me, it is just as tasty using the canned beans. Just make sure you drain and rinse them well before cooking.
I use chicken broth to make this dish, but you can easily swap it out for water or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian. You can also amp it up by plopping the bone left over from your lechon asado in the pot while the beans and rice are cooking. As always, you just need to do what works best for you. However you choose to make Moros y Cristianos, it will be a hearty, flavorful and very satisfying meal!
Moros y Cristianos (adapted from Three Guys From Miami)
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil for sautéing
2 1/2 cups white onion, diced
2 1/2 cups bell peppers, seeded and diced (I used a mixture of green, red and yellow.)
4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups long-grain white rice
1. Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.
2. Use a large, eight-quart covered stockpot. Sauté the onion and green pepper in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic, and sauté another minute or two. Add the tomato paste, black beans, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, and vinegar. Cook for about five minutes, stirring gently.
3. Add the chicken stock and the rinsed rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
4. Remove the bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste.
For an added treat, drizzle some Spanish olive oil (dont be stingy!) over the rice in the pot and fluff cooked rice gently with a fork. If plating the rice as a side dish, drizzle a little olive oil over individual servings and garnish with some parsley or cilantro.
If using dry beans, soak in cold water overnight. Drain and place in a stockpot with fresh water covering the beans. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer, covered for 1 hour or until beans are tender but firm. Drain the beans by pouring the cooking water into a bowl. Save the water, you will use it later for the rice.
Add the vegetable oil to the stockpot and sauté the garlic, pepper, and onion for 2 to 3 minutes until they soften. Stir in the black beans and rice, and add the water you have saved from cooking the beans. Add an additional 2 cups of water.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is tender approximately 20 minutes. Stir frequently and check to see if you need additional water to keep the rice from sticking. You can add more water 1/2 cup at a time while it finishes. Just don’t overdo it or your rice will get mushy.
Once the rice is fully cooked, add the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. The dish is best served hot. If you like, you can add some chopped bacon at the end. Or serve as a side dish with hearty roasted meat like pork or chicken.
Moro with Chicken and Vegetables
THE QUICK BITE: Platillo Moros y Cristianos is a traditional Cuban rice dish of black beans and rice that carries with it a deep cultural history. We offer a simple authentic recipe for you to try at home.
Cuban Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)
Using the bean cooking liquid to cook the rice creates an inky hue and earthy flavor that is the perfect foil to the brighter flavors imparted by the vinegar and oregano. Sauteed bacon doesn't hurt either.
Chef and cookbook author Maricel Presilla says the dish is typically served as a side, but we've been more than happy to eat a bowl for a satisfying main course.
If you don't want to cook dried beans, use one 15-ounce can of beans, reserving its liquid to use when you cook the rice. You will have to add water to the liquid from the can to get the necessary 4 cups for cooking the rice. If you don't have sherry vinegar, you can substitute distilled white vinegar, although the flavor won't be quite the same. Equal amounts of distilled vinegar and dry sherry will work, too.
The cilantro and lime are not traditionally Cuban, so they're an optional garnish.
Click here to see step-by-step photos for this recipe.
Make Ahead: The beans can be cooked up to 2 days in advance. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and refrigerate beans and liquid separately.
When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.
Place the beans in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot along with the water, onion, green bell pepper and cubanelle pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours, maintaining gentle bubbling, until the beans are tender yet still retain their shape (test the beans for doneness the range in time depends somewhat on how fresh the beans are). Drain, reserving 4 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the flavoring vegetables the yield of beans is 2 cups.
Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Drain well.
Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, until golden. Add the onion, green bell pepper, cumin, oregano and bay leaf cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened.
Add the rice and stir to coat thoroughly. Add the beans and their reserved cooking liquid, the sherry vinegar and salt. Stir well, then taste for seasoning add a dash more vinegar, cumin, oregano and/or salt, as needed. The liquid should be flavorful. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and small holes have formed on the surface of the rice. Fluff the rice with a fork, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, uncover and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Discard the bay leaf.
Top each portion with cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges, if desired.
Moros y Cristianos - Recipes
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 salt pork belly, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 bay leafs
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, not drained
1 3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Put the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the cloves, let it sit for a few minutes, and mince it into a paste with a knife. Set aside.
Place the salt pork belly and olive oil in a large pot and set it over medium-high heat. Sauté the bacon until it renders its fat and turns a golden brown color, about 6 minutes. Move the bacon around as it's cooking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic paste to the bacon and sauté until the vegetables are limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, the bay leaf, cumin, oregano, and rice and stir for 1 minute until well mixed and all the rice is coated in oil.
Add the beans and their liquid, along with the water and vinegar, to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed by the rice. Allow the covered pot to sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Dishes you can make using Black Beans
- Heat oil in a skillet at medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and minced garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion is transparent. (Please check the ingredients list below)
- Add the beans and cook for about 2 more minutes, allowing them to absorb some of the flavors of the onion.
- Stir in the cooked rice and pour the bean broth in the skillet. Keep cooking for about 5 minutes, until everything is hot. Season with salt and add oregano and cumin (if using)
Serve with some slices of fried plantains and a delicious creamy guacamole using the recipe below. This can even make a great meatless meal.
Quinoa and Black Bean Chili
Prepare this nutritious vegetarian dish that’s full of fiber and flavor. The stellar ingredient are tender and delicious GOYA® Black Beans, which are combined with cooked quinoa, corn, onion, tomato sauce, bell peppers and a touch of chipotle. Before serving, garnish with cilantro, and enjoy!
Made with GOYA® Black Beans
GOYA® Black Beans are not only convenient and tasty, they’re winners of the ChefsBest® Excellence Award for their incredible quality, and are considered nutritious for their fiber, iron and protein content. Use them in all your favorite recipes that call for beans, like soups, salads, chili and more.
* The ChefsBest® Excellence Award is awarded to brands that surpass quality standards established by independent professional chefs.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ cup green bell pepper chopped
- ½ cup red bell pepper chopped
- small onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 15 oz black beans use the liquid in the recipe
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
Cuban black beans and rice - Moros Y Cristianos
Black beans are sacred in Cuba and they are eaten with almost every single meal. These Cuban black beans and rice, called Moros Y Cristianos, also feature bacon to make them even more delicious! A perfect side dish to anything!
Black beans for Cubans are like rice for Asians or potatoes for the Irish. They are literally everywhere and it's never enough of them. Frijoles negros (Spanish for "black beans") accompany almost every dish. It's a no-brainer for Cubans when it comes to picking a side dish. Roasted pork? Beans go well together. Grilled chicken? Take the beans. Do you like your Cuban sandwich with fries or without sides at all? Seriously? You're nuts because it would be so much better with. You are right, beans. Seafood? Just take the beans and don't ask why.
Jokes aside. I can understand why Cubans are so in love with frijoles negros. If you cook 'em right. They are freaking delicious. The majority of black bean dishes can be split into two groups: beans with rice and without it. I've chosen to make the classic Cuban black beans and rice dish with a historic name "Moros Y Cristianos" which is "Moors and Christians" in English. By the name of this dish you can already guess that it has an interesting history behind it.
The name of the dish is a reference to the battles between the Islamic Moors and the Christian Spaniards that took place in Spain between 8th and 15th centuries. Black beans represent dark-skinned Moors, while the white rice represents light-skinned Christians. It was probably brought to Cuba by early Spanish settlers. We can thank them now because it's one of the best bean and rice combinations I have ever tasted and I loved every bite of it!
I must confess - there was a nagging thought in my head that this dish can end up bland. Quite the contrary! The flavors blend really well together. The pungent aroma of cumin and oregano is so on point here. Black beans are so tender they melt in your mouth. I also love how beans color the rice making it brownish. The idea to place the few fried plantain slices on top came suddenly - I saw them sitting on the counter and somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I remembered reading about the popularity of these fruits (are they considered fruits?) in Cuba. It was a successful decision in terms of look and taste.
Moros Y Cristianos works best as a side dish. I made it to accompany Ropa Vieja and it was a hit. However, if you will add some bacon like I did, you can serve these Cuban black beans and rice on their own as a light main course.
Moros y Cristianos – Black beans and rice
If you have a different way of making them, or if I missed something, please let me know below. Also let me know if you make this dish. Would love to hear how it turned out!
- 1/2 lb of black beans
- 5 c water
- 2 green peppers
- 1/2 lb salt pork
- 1/2 lb onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1 lb rice
- 2 oz bacon
- Rinse beans and place in a large pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2". Slice and seed a green pepper and throw into the pot. Let beans soak overnight or at least a few hours.
- Cook beans in the same water over med-low heat until they are soft, approx 45 minutes. When they are done, remove three cups of water and set aside, then drain the rest of the beans in a colander and set aside.
- Cut up the salt pork into small pieces and fry in the large pot until cooked thoroughly - do not drain.
- Add the onions, garlic and green pepper to the pan and saute until onions are soft,
- Add the beans, three cups of water, bay leaf and oregano and bring to a boil.
- Dice the bacon and fry in a pan, add the rice and saute together for a few seconds until the rice is coated/mixed with the bacon.
- When the water starts to boil, add the rice and bacon to the pot, stir, and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit an additional 5 minutes.
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