Friday, October 5, 2012

Habichuelas (Stewed Beans)

You may have to poke around in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store for some of the ingredients. This recipe will feed about 12 people as a side dish or 6 people as a main dish. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. of smoked cubed ham
1 cooking green pepper (this is not hot), diced small (these are the long light green ones, not bell peppers)
1 large finely diced onion
4 finely chopped garlic cloves
2 cans (16 oz cans) pinto beans boiled in water and salt. The can label should say some kind of liquid with beans are in. Just be careful not to get the ones cooked in tomato sauce or "ready to eat".
2 ham or chicken broth bouillon cubes, diluted in 1 cup water
1 cup tomato sauce
½ teaspoon dry oregano leaves
2 medium cubed potatoes
1 small cubed pumpkin
1 zucchini cubed squash

Using a deep stock pot, heat the oil over a medium heat and sauté the onions for 5 minutes.  Add ham, and cook until it starts to get a light golden color on some of it. Add the garlic; stir in and heat for 1 minute.  Add the diced green peppers. Stir frequently to avoid burning. This process should take 5 minutes.  Add the beans with their liquid, the diluted broth (you could use your own homemade chicken broth if you like), the tomato sauce, and the oregano. Stir to mix. Let it boil at medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the cubed potatoes, zucchini, and pumpkin. Lower the heat to low and do not cover.  Let it simmer until the potatoes, zucchini and pumpkin are tender and the sauce thickens (about 45 to 60 minutes). If you add the potatoes and pumpkin there is not enough liquid, add water little by little until there is enough to cover everything. If the sauce does not thicken enough, simmer longer (or if you are in a hurry, mash 2 or 3 extra pieces of the potatoes or pumpkin and add to the pot).

Correct the seasoning. You can add salt and ground black pepper as needed.  If it tastes a little acidy, add ½ teaspoon of sugar.

Serve over white rice.

Puerto Rican White Rice

My son Eddie grew up on this and loves rice.  We have eaten a lot of rice over the years.  It replaced the Iowa meat and potato diet I grew up on.  My secret is a good rice pan.  It was also Aunt Epi’s secret.  She taught me how to cook many Puerto Rican dishes.  She passed many years ago, but I can't make rice without thinking of her and thanking her.

I like to use a basmati rice. Aunt Eip did not teach me that.  That is my own touch.  It is a Indian rice, but I just love the aroma and flavor. I've passed that onto Eddie.  It has a more nutty flavor and the smell it brings to the kitchen is amazing.  It is a little pricey because it is aged, so you may want to just use a long grained rice to make it an authentic Puerto Rican rice.  If you are a member of Sam's Club, you can get a large burlap bag for a great price.  We eat a lot of rice, so this is how we save.  I know Eddie's family goes through many bags a year.

Olive oil
2 cups long grain rice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cups water

In a good pan that has a good lid that fits tight, cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil.  Heat the pan and pour in 2 cup of rice.  Use a long grain rice.  Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper and 1 tsp. of garlic powder. When the rice begins to turn whiter (do not let it turn brown), pour in 3 cups of water and bring to a good boil.  Turn down the heat to low and cover the pan with the lid.  Do not lift the lid for at least 30 minutes.

In the Puerto Rican culture, you always fix more than your family can eat at one sitting.  Ed said that should unexpected guests come, you always had enough to ask them to join you.  If not, you will always have left overs.   It is a nice way of thinking.  The above recipe will feed unexpected guest also.

Hope you enjoy.  I really enjoy cooking different cultures in addition to my homemade country recipes.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

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