(I'm sure that most of my readers are hip enough to know this title is in reference to a NOFX album of a similar name, and not a racist, anti-semitic admission on my part- although the 'white trash' moniker does occasionally apply fittingly to myself...)
Ask me for a dish that I like better than really good rice and beans, and I'll tell you there aren't many.
Red, black, cranberry, white, purple, green doesn't matter. Throw some rice in the mix and serve with some sort of something "animal-y" (or not) and I'm usually a pretty happy guy.
That being said I've never made my own as I usually rely on the much more experienced hands (I'm sure) of the authentic (i.e. shitty holes-in-the-wall) cooks at the authentic shitty holes-in-the-wall that I love to visit whenever possible.
Good rice and beans is one of those dishes that I feel "chefs" try and fancy up too much and as a result loses some of the appeal for me. Thus my fear in making them myself is that I'd try and do the same.
It's not that "gourmet" rice and beans aren't good, they just aren't as soulful, or "real". And like most things pertaining to poor people food, poor people do it better. Call it out of necessity, but people making food the same way for hundreds of years because that's all they've had, have it down better than people who's toughest decision is which locally sourced organic farm to get their beans from. Again, not that anything is wrong with that, it just loses something in the "authentic" department along the way.
In other words, gringos usually fuck it up.
But, what can you do?
For me, I invited a South American friend and his gringa girlfriend to add some sort of credibility to the dinner (he's Colombian, but for the sake of this story let's pretend he's Mexican. They're all the same, right?) (I know that they aren't, I'm purposefully making broad generalizations to show Americans ignorance to all things non-white)
Here we are, like a veritable rainbow of beige-to-slightly-darker-beige...
We're the best!
(obviously I'm not pictured here, but I'm generally considered to be pretty white by the cooks at all the restaurants I've worked in...)
Let's get this train wreck back on course, shall we?
So as I'm sure you've deduced by now, I did eventually decide to cook black beans and rice, and I could think of no better accompaniment than a nice big, juicy, cumin and lime crusted pork loin...
So that's what I did.
Here's my "before" shot that I've become so famous for (I haven't):
After prepping the veggies, I started by sweating some chopped bacon, ham, and chorizo in bacon fat and lard (of course!);
Added the peppers (Anaheim in this case), celery, and onions:
When those were sweated down (10 minutes or so) I added some garlic, hot sauce, and a box of tomato along with a glug of cider vinegar, chicken stock, and some beer:
and brought that to a boil and then down to a simmer and simmered for a few minutes before adding the star of the show, the black beans:
See all that fat forming on the top? That's flavor, baby, and natural, good-for-you flavor too...
I then gave it all a stir:
And let it simmer for however-the-fuck-long-you-want, it might even benefit from a night in the fridge and a reheat. It certainly wouldn't suffer from it. But in this case it simmered long enough to make some white rice, a pork loin, and a chicken breast for Liz because she doesn't eat pork (I know... I know.)
So the pork.
I wanted to do an authentic-y spice rub so I toasted some cumin and ground it up and seared the shit out of it on a hot ass pan:
I for sure started this while I was building the beans to save time, but really, if you did the beans first and then did everything else, the beans are just going to be better for it...
That's the same pan I cooked the pork in, afterwards I strained the pan drippings into the bean through a china cap (why not?).
A note on pork:
Pork is the best thing ever in the whole world. That being said, the conditions that most supermarket pork is raised in is beyond reprehensible. If our government had any sort of balls of their own that weren't owned by the big corporations there would be sweeping changes made to our food system, and there'd be a lot of people in jail (including most of the government officials who let these heinous conditions thrive). However, where things of greed and corruptibility are concerned, the bad guys continue to win.
It's neither a close nor a fair fight.
So what can one do in the face of such insurmountable odds?
Don't buy it.
This pork is pasture raised and humanely slaughtered.
You know how I know that? I know the butcher.
In this case I bought it at Fairway and asked about it.
Is it more expensive?
Is it better tasting, better for the environment, better for the pig, and better for you?
As much as I love pork, steak, chicken, lamb, wild boar, buffalo, deer, and what-have-you, I'd rather not eat it than give money to the bad guys.
I'm lucky that I can make that choice. Not everyone can, and I can't hold anyone else responsible for the decisions they make to feed their families, but PLEASE! If you can, only buy free range humanely raised and slaughtered animals. It's like a vote with your money. If we can get enough people to not buy the horrible products that the big animal feed lots shove down our throats, then maybe they'll be forced to change their more-than evil ways.
Maybe not, but at least you'll be doing yourself, the environment, the farmer who chose to raise it humanely, and the animal who gave up it's life without being asked if it'd like to a big favor by respecting those things over cost.
Plus, and most importantly IT TASTE BETTER!
One of the many benefits of buying good pork is that you can cook it medium rare with no ill effects. Some people still aren't ready to take the leap of faith but even the USDA has recently changed it's position on the minimum temperature pork is safe to be eaten at.
So here's mine, deeply browned on the outside, and pink, juicy, and flavorful on the in...
I mean what goes better with black beans and rice with cumin scented pork loin than Pacifico?
(not a product endorsement)
So while I rest the meat (ALWAYS REST YOUR MEAT FOR A MINIMUM OF TEN MINUTES!!!!) I cooked up one of my favorite side dishes ever:
Doesn't that just scream "healthy!!"? It's just sauteed in olive oil with browned garlic and a touch of butter added at the end for richness... It goes with any dinner and is crazy delicious/good for you...
(also not an endorsement)
Anyways, these next shots are pretty much just food porn, so I'm gonna give 'em all to you as I couldn't decide on just one, so here's a bunch of shots of sliced pork:
...and then one more of the rice and beans:
and then (because this post is beyond long enough)...
I mean, come on...
So in the interest of time conservation (one of the things my blog will attest to the fact that I'm least interested in) I'm gonna wrap this up.
Just a quick aside; the next night(-ish) I chopped up the pork and heated it up in a pan with some green salsa, and heated up the rice and beans, some shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and hot sauce and made some killer stoner gringo burritos that were very, very good as well... Just in case you were at a loss for leftover possibilities...
Anyways... As my friend Oscar (he's my Mexican friend from the pictures) would say: "jajajajaja..."
(for some reason they say that instead of "hahahaha." They're so different from us...)
Thanks for coming over Oscar and Jane, I hope you'll be regular visitors to the old Leftover Foodie!
(I may even convince Tom to come over again one day!)
Not for nothing, but I missed a perfect meal to photograph the other night which makes me sad as this was a good one (grilled scallops in the shell!!!), and am off to Vermont for the week this coming week, so between the two things I don't have anything to post until I can download pictures from my Vermont trip. So, and I'm sure this will seem tragic for my ardent followers who've become accustomed to my prolific post rate, I probably won't post any real posts for a week or two (or thirty). But I'm going to try and remote post some pictures to the blog as a new "see, I haven't forgotten you" gesture, and hope to get crackin' on some good stuff over the rest of the summer (I can feel myself going on a "wood fire cooking" spree as many times as I can get my hands on a grill).
Apart from that, go fuck yourselves or something, I'm on vacation!
Love, and miss you guys already,