Spanish Rice with Black Beans, Bacon and Cheddar

Apr 2nd

We made a recipe very similar to this back in my high school kitchens – you could find it on this site but as I scanned the ingredients as written, I knew it needed some cleaning up. I swapped the white for brown rice, switched the method to be more “hands off”, and doubled the amount. This makes a great change-up dinner idea, and though it’s low on meat, I guarantee if you put a steaming bowl of anything topped generously with grated cheese and bacon in front of your meat-lovers, everything will be fine.

If you’ve read this site before you know I feel passion for food – most foods, to be honest. Rice, not so much. RISOTTO, yes. Rice pudding? Yes. Just white or brown, plain rice? Blah. There is nothing blah about this dish – it packs a punch. It’s spicy and fresh but it’s the texture contrast that makes it sing; chewy/crunchy bacon with half melted cheese and tender rice. It’s like the dinner version of an ice cream sundae.

Last week I’d told my boss of a daughter, “You need to ask nicely” one too many times and my very cool husband knew he needed to take her out for a pre-dinner town walk. I finished making dinner and then ate my “demo” bowl before I gave a bit of thought to the other people I live with. The benefit to this was that when they got home I got to watch them enjoy dinner with full attention. Rich was mid-story and about six bites in when he paused, looked down at his bowl, and said “By the way this is REALLY good”. Score! Isn’t it better when the diners like the cook’s dinner? It saves you from wanting to kick them under the table while vehemently demanding they tell you exactly what they don’t like about the delicious food you prepared for them.

Spanish Rice with Black Beans, Bacon and Cheddar

Serves 4

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 large onion, diced

1 bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

28 oz. chunky crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 c. water

3/4 c. brown rice

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. Worcestershire

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

dash hot sauce, to taste

1 12 oz. can black beans, rinsed

8 slices turkey or center-cut pork bacon, cooked and chopped

4-6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 c.)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using medium high heat, add oil to large pot, dutch oven, or large skillet with a lid. Add onion and pepper and saute until softened – about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute, stirring, for 30 seconds.

2. Add tomatoes, water, rice, brown sugar, Worcestershire, chili powder, salt and pepper and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. As soon as mixture reaches boil place lid on pan and place in preheated oven. Set timer for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Alternately, you can cook stovetop by simmering, partially covered, until rice is tender – about 45 minutes. Either way, stir mixture every twenty minutes.

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3. When excess liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, add hot sauce and black beans and stir to combine.

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4. Serve, topped with bacon and cheese.

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