This dish goes by a few different names, depending on which part of Cuba your family came from, but in my household we always called it congri. Congri is one of the few Cuban specialties that is traditionally vegan, although some restaurants add pork fat, so always ask and check. This dish, where you cook the beans and the rice together, results in a greyish rice with black beans. “Gris” means grey in Spanish and “con” means with, so you can see how they got the name. This is a shortcut recipe using canned black beans, instead of boiling dried beans yourself for several hours as is the traditional method, which will result in a lighter color rice, but is equally delicious in half the time.
I love this dish. You simply must serve it with fried sweet plantains, or platanos maduros as we call them. Goya makes a frozen package that goes from freezer to table in 4 minutes and they’re every bit as delicious as ones you’d fry yourself without all the hassle. This is a great side for holiday meals or great as a main dish any night of the week. I hope you enjoy making this and add it to your regular menu. Buen provecho!
Traditional Cuban black beans and rice cooked together.
Strain and separate the black bean liquid from the black beans. You will need 1.5 Cups of black bean liquid and 3 Cups of black beans. Set aside any leftover black beans for use in another recipe. If you don't get enough bean liquid from the cans, simply add more water.
Heat olive oil in a covered sauté pan or medium sized sauce pan on medium heat.
Start the sofrito, by sautéing the onions and peppers for 3-5 minutes and then adding the garlic.
Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the spices and bay leaf. Cook for an additional minute stirring frequently.
Add the rice, stir to coat the rice in the oil.
Add the bean broth, white wine, white vinegar, and sour orange juice. Stir to combine.
Add the beans and level them evenly over the rice. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for approximately 25 minutes.
Once the liquid looks like it has mostly cooked out, fluff the beans and rice together with a fork. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so that the rice does not burn and stick. The rice will look like there is no way it will plump. Resist the temptation to add more liquid. Have faith. The beans will continue to release liquid to help cook the rice. Cover and cook for an additional 20 - 25 minutes after fluffing.
Fluff the rice one more time, then reduce heat to low and cook for 5 more minutes. This will help the rice dry out and separate the grain.
Fluff one last time and you are now ready to serve.
Serve with fried sweet plantains (platanitos maduros) and enjoy!