Saturday, June 19, 2010

Congrí: Red Beans and Rice

Congrí in my family has always meant red beans and rice as opposed to Moros y Cristianos which is black beans and rice. In searching recipes for the dish, I learned that black beans and rice is often referred to as congrí as well. Live and learn. I have never made congrí although I have eaten it often. Another new adventure! I can say that I had to make adjustments to the recipe I was following, but it turned out terrific. This is what I did:

1 cup dry red kidney beans, soaked overnight (or a minimun of three hours)
8 cups water
a drizzle of olive oil

Bring your pre-soaked beans to a boil in 8 cups of water with 1 bay leaf and olive oil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding additional water if needed. Once the beans are tender turn off the burner and let sit for about one hour. At this point drain them and reserve 4 cups of the liquid (if you don't have enough liquid add water). Set aside.

5 strips of bacon cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups raw long grain white rice

In a large pot over medium heat cook the bacon until crisp. Remove it and discard the excess fat from the pot. In the same pot heat your olive oil, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic, stirring until tender. Return the bacon to the pot. Add the beans along with the reserved liquid. Turn the heat to high and add the oregano, cumin, bay leaf, salt and rice. Stir. Bring heat down to low and cover. Check in 15-20 mintues; fluff rice with a fork and determine if more liquid is necessary. Make any necessary adjustments and cover until done. Remove bay leaf and serve.


  1. Now all you need are a few masitas de puerco fritas (fried pork chunks), some yuca con mojo and a good ensalada de aguacate con berro... Actually, moros y cristianos (the rice cooked together with the black beans) was made in the western part of Cuba (Havana included) , were black beans were abundant and red beans were not in colonial times. The opposite was true in the eastern part of Cuba (Santiago de Cuba included) where black beans were not readily available at the time and so they made congrí with red beans (smaller than the kidney beans, though). Another version of either congrí (with red beans) or moros y cristianos (with black beans) uses chicharrones de empella (small cut pork rinds with some meat attached to it) instead of the bacon. Sometimes, when I have it handy, I chop a small chorizo español right into the sofrito and it gives it this incredible taste... Anyway you make it, it is delicious! Have a wonderful Sunday.

    1. It has more to do with the fact that the Haitian slave descendents and descendents Of Haitian migrant workers are settled on the eastern part of the island. This dish is actually Haitian in origin even the name denotes that!!

  2. Nice dish here, of course I've made plenty of black beans and rice, and eaten enough too. I'm impressed that you did the beans from scratch! I like the smaller red beans, or pink beans like they use in Puerto Rico. Pedro's ideas are good too! Yummy, perfect for a weeknight meal!

  3. As far as I can tell this recipe works with any kind of bean, black, red, white. I used what I had in the pantry. And yes, insteead of bacon you can use pork rinds, ham or chorizo or a combination thereof... I was bad enough using the bacon (diet!)

  4. Since I'm vegetarian, I usually prepare something similar without the meat. But I love all the spices, oregano, bay, cumin. I'm hungry now.

  5. You can definitely go meatless with this recipe.

  6. The origin of this dish is actually Haitian. From the descendents if the Haitian slaves brought to the island during the Haitian revolution. Congo is the Haitian word for kidney beans and Riz is creole for rice so Congrí means rice with red kidney beans. It’s a staple in the Haitian cuisines and eaten mostly everyday similar to how you guys eat black beans with white rice. It’s eaten like this in the eastern part of the island because that is where most of the Haitian slave descendents were settled. The Carribean is a magical place!