I wanted a side dish to go with my Veracruz Fish Tacos and the marriage [casamiento] of black beans and rice seems a natural. In reading about the cuisine of Veracruz black beans are a must.
Veracruz being as first port of call on the east coast of Mexico had more contact with Europe than other parts of the Mexican interior. The joining together of the Old World rice with the New World beans is almost symbolic of Veracruz’s historic position as the place where European, black slave and indigenous native cultures combined to form something new.
Note: I will use the name casamiento, rather than the more common but politically incorrect name for this dish (this is California after all).
However, there seems to be little agreement on how you cook the beans to make them “Veracruz”. It may be enough simply to use black beans in your Mexican bean recipe, because they are associated with Veracruz in Mexican culture. Although this would beg the question of: How that would make them different from “Cuban” black beans? One source said that they must be soaked overnight to be “Veracruz style.” Another source just as firmly held that no local cook would ever soak their beans before cooking. Some recipes were as simple as beans, onion and garlic. Other recipes had 20 to30 ingredients.
I plan on going for the simpler end of this spectrum. But I will be combining some European ingredients and some indigenous ingredients in keeping with spirit of Veracruz’s melting pot status. It will be a casamiento, not just the beans and rice, but of old and new world spices as well.
I have been seeing some things labeled “Mexican green onions” at Chavez Market. These look like spring onions that have been working out. They have a bulb at the base, but unlike regular bulb onions, like Spanish or white, they are harvested with much of the green leaves left attached, like spring onions. These onions are sold by the bunch, so whenever I do not use for my beans I plan to grill on the BBQ.
All of the recipes I looked at called for garlic and Mexican oregano sounds like a reasonable additionl. Black pepper [Old World] in addition to green chilies [New World] to give it a matching casamiento of heat. And finally hints of cloves and cinnamon to give it a more cosmopolitan flare.
Normally, in Mexico, this dish would be made with leftover beans and rice from another meal, but I will start from scratch. Instead of a big pot of beans I will be making only enough to mix with the rice. Fortunately, the recipes I have read call of using a fair amount of the bean liquid, so a small pot of “soupy” beans will be what I need.
Note: I do not plan to soak my beans. What I have learned is that while soaking may make your beans “less gassy,” it also washes out some of the nutrients and much of the color.
Karl’s Casamiento Veracruz (Black Beans and Rice)
½ cup black beans
3 Tbs. corn oil, separate uses
¼ cup Mexican green onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Serrano chili, diced fine
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 cloves, crushed
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup long grain rice
1½ cups chicken broth
1-2 Jalapeño chilies, sliced
¼ cup Mexican green onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro
1. Sort and rinse the beans.
2. Sauté the onions in 2 Tbs. of corn oil in a medium pan for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for one minute more.
4. Add the beans and spices (except the salt) and add water until the beans are covered by an inch.
Options: Use wine or beer instead of water for cooking the beans.
5. Bring the pot to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Note: Stir the beans and check the liquid level occasionally. You do not want the beans to dry out and stick as they will burn. When they are done the beans should be fairly “soupy.”
6. While the beans are cooking add the rice and broth to a second pot, or rice steamer, and cook until tender.
7. Just before serving, add the remaining oil, Fresno chili and remaining onions to a large pot and cook until the onions are translucent.
8. Add the rice, beans and most of the cilantro and mix until the rice is coated,
9. Remove to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining cilantro.
Grilled Mexican Green Onions
I had read on line that the other name of these onions was grilling onions. I already had the grill going for the fish, so the idea of throwing some on was not a stretch. This is not so much a recipe as a technique. Wipe the onions with corn oil on a paper towel. Throw them on the grill for about 20 minutes, rotating them occasionally. Ten minutes directly over the coals and another ten along the edges of the heat.