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Monday, October 10, 2011

Gallo Pinto: Beans and Rice

A serious note, Dollinks: As this blog’s “administrator” (the most senior business title I’ve ever held! I must give myself a pay raise!), I regularly peek behind the scenes to get a sense of who you might be and where you live. Thus, I know that most of you who read this blog come from Canada and the US, but many, many of you live in Europe, Russia, the Philippines, the Middle East, Australia, and parts of Asia. I often think how strange it must be for some of you to read about the dishes I prepare in my small but well-appointed kitchen. Sometimes, I feel a little embarrassed that people in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live have such affluent lives. 
I’m keenly aware that not everyone can afford some of the dishes I make. Much of the time, Ron and I eat quite simply, but I usually try to prepare something special for you, as a way of sharing my favorite recipes. As you’ll know if you’ve read the past two days’ postings, we’ve just returned from a tropical place far removed from the time zone in which we live. One of the dietary staples in that beautiful country is Gallo Pinto - Rice and Beans - which the locals often eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This highly nutritious dish is an excellent low-fat source of energy, carbs, protein, and fiber. It’s ironic that with the plentiful inclusion of fruits and vegetables, the simple diets of emerging nations are often superior to the diets of the so-called “wealthier” nations.
Today, I’d like to honor you wherever you live, by publishing two deliciously simple and very inexpensive versions of Gallo Pinto. I’m well aware that it’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and that your expectation may have been to find an interesting turkey or pumpkin pie recipe on today’s blog, but I think it more appropriate to give thanks for however much or little you have. “Wealth” means more than a bank account. People with empty pockets often have hearts that are full. 

Giving thanks can be as simple as being grateful for each day. Consider serving one of these excellent Gallo Pinto recipes with your Thanksgiving feast, as a reminder not to take your life for granted. I’ve provided a meatless version, as well as one that uses bacon. Happy Thanksgiving, Dollinks!
Vegetarian Gallo Pinto:
1-½ c. “Ancient Grains” rice mix (from Costco) or your own combination of brown rice, medium grain red rice, pearl barley, quinoa, and wild rice
3 c. cold water or vegetable stock
19 fl. oz. (540 mL) can black beans
¼ c. artificial bacon bits made from textured vegetable protein (optional)
1 tbsp. Cajun spice (or use my Creole Seasoning Mix blogged Jan. 14, 2012)
1 tsp. chili flakes (see Note)
2 tbsp. mayonnaise (see Note)
Wash grains with cold water in sieve until water runs clear. Combine in pot or rice cooker with 3 c. water or stock, cooking 45 - 50 min. until tender but still slightly chewy. If you don’t know how to cook brown rice, barley, or quinoa, go to http://startcooking.com/blog/253/How-to-Cook-Brown-Rice Simmer beans on medium heat shortly before rice finishes cooking. When rice is ready, stir in drained beans, artificial bacon bits (optional), spices, and mayonnaise. Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish.


Note: If you're fortunate enough to have a squeeze bottle of Mexican mayonnaise with chipotle peppers in your fridge, use it in place of the chili flakes and regular mayonnaise this recipe calls for. Made by McCormick, the product is called Mayonesa. Sad to say, I've never seen it sold in North America. It's delicious! Get on the ball, McCormick!

Gallo Pinto with Bacon:
1-½ c. long grain white rice (I use basmati rice. I don’t recommend using “instant” rice for anything)
3 c. cold water or chicken stock
½ lb. bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 26 oz. (798 mL) can red kidney beans, undrained
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
Coarse grinding of black pepper, to taste
Wash rice with cold water in sieve until water runs clear. Combine in pot or rice cooker with water or stock, cooking about 20 min. If you don’t know how to cook white rice, visit  http://startcooking.com/blog/72/How-to-Cook-White-Rice
While rice is cooking, dice and fry bacon on medium heat until lightly golden. Drain off all but 1 tbsp. of bacon fat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, continuing to fry until onion becomes translucent and bacon starts to crisp. Stir in undrained kidney beans,  soy sauce, brown sugar, and flour. Continue cooking 1 or 2 min. longer, pouring over cooked rice. Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish.

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