I made this dish over at Andy's new place for his roommates and us on Tuesday, November 3. For the first time since embarking on this project, there was calamity in the kitchen...
Rice and beans is the national dish of Belize. The original recipe that I found warned of there being issues with the bottom of the rice getting mushy and the top remaining crispy. On the same page, there is a link to another rice and beans recipe from a true Belizean, who said that her recipe has never failed. I tried that recipe...
The recipe was annoying to begin with, because I had to soak the beans for four hours, then boil them until tender. After this long time period, I was to add the rice. It didn't look like there was enough water in the pan, but I was also to add a cup of coconut milk, and I decided to trust the recipe. This was my first mistake. After it cooked for a half hour, it was clear from simply looking at it that the rice on the top was not cooked at all. I tasted it, and the flavor was good (coconutty), but the rice was not done at all. So, I added more water, and set the pot to simmer. Being impatient, as it was already 8:30pm, I turned the heat up to medium low instead of just low. Mistake number two. I went downstairs to watch some TV while I waited for the water to absorb. I came back up about five minutes later to the terrible smell of smoke. I singed the bottom of the rice, and since there was a lid on the pot, the result was al dente, smoke flavored rice and beans. Not so delicious, although clearly edible, as we all ate our portion, and Andy even had seconds. Still, not my finest cooking moment.
The meatballs were really good. They got a little dry, as I kept them simmering during the rice and beans fiasco. Despite this, they were flavorful. The bacon mixed in made a difference, as did the "gravy," which was more like simply the grease that the meatballs gave off while cooking plus some water and tomato paste. I would make these again.
Rice and Beans Ingredients:- 1 lb. red kidney beans - 6-8 c. water - 2 cloves garlic, crushed - 1 medium onion, sliced - 4 oz. bacon pieces - 1/2 tsp. black pepper - 1/2 tsp. thyme - 1 tsp. salt - 1 c. coconut milk - 2 lb. cleaned rice Directions: 1) Wash the beans, then soak for four hours, using the 6-8 cups water. 2) Boil beans until tender with garlic, onion and bacon (about 30 minutes) 3) Season beans with pepper, thyme and salt. 4) Add coconut milk. Stir, then let boil. 5) Add rice to beans. Stir, then cover. Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and test tenderness. Add more water as necessary and simmer longer.
Meatballs modified from original recipe Ingredients:- 1 lb. ground beef - 2 oz. bacon, chopped - 2 T. onion, minced - 1/2 tsp. salt - pinch paprika - 2 T. olive oil - 1 T. tomato paste - 1 T. flour - pepper and thyme to taste
Directions: 1) Mix ground meat, bacon, onion and all seasonings. 2) Shape into balls with wet hands. 3) Heat the oil and fry the meatballs, turning carefully to brown all over. 4) Add hot water to almost cover the meatballs, then stir in tomato paste. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. 5) Stir the flour to a paste with cold water; add and boil for 5 minutes to thicken the gravy. 6) Serve with gravy.