For as long as I can remember, black beans and rice has been one of my favorite dishes. I went to this awesome bilingual daycare in DC when I was really little and every Friday we got black beans and rice. I lived for those black beans and rice….
When I was 19, I spent a couple months living with a host family in Honduras while volunteering with Amigos de las Americas and we often got beans and rice for dinner, but they were never mixed together. My host mom watched in amazement as I excitedly stirred them together on my plate. After a few weeks I no longer had black beans on my plate. When I asked, I was told there were none left, they were out of season. I didn’t know that could happen! I was devastated. But then a couple of days before I left, my host mom served me lunch with a huge grin on her face. She had gotten some black beans and had already mixed them in with the rice for me. I ate those rice and beans with every meal until I headed back to the States a couple days later.
Once I was cooking on my own for the first time, black beans and rice became a staple for me. When I was in college, I would cook up a huge pot of black beans and rice and eat it all week long, adding in another veggie or two every couple of days to make it a little different. It was cheap, it was healthy, it was easy, and I loved it.
I had never used a recipe to make black beans and rice until I made this dish from Rick Bayless. I may never have even tried it — I was pretty happy with my own version — but had a bite from a coworker at lunch one day and couldn’t wait to make it. I was the one that introduced her to Rick Bayless and the wonders of Mexican Everyday, and she was the one to introduce me to Bayless’ black beans and rice recipe. I may never, ever go back.
I have a major affinity for ancho chile powder. I just love the distinctive, rich, smoky, mild heat of ancho chiles. Ancho chiles are actually the dried version of poblanos and the powder and the powder is a very dark reddish color and can sometimes be brownish. My favorite dish to order at Mexican/Tex Mex restaurants is a plate of enchiladas and when I see them come out with a very dark, brownish red sauce, I know I’m going to love it! Here the chicken is sautéed with ancho powder, giving it both a wonderful color and flavor.
Red Chile Chicken and Rice with Black Beans
Adapted from Mexican Everyday
You could technically buy some salsa to serve with these rice and beans, but once you try Bayless’ smoky chipotle salsa you’ll never want to. It’s easy and delicious, adding a whole new depth to the dish.
Don’t be afraid of the amount of ancho in the dish — it’s a milder chile powder. If you can’t find it in the spice aisle in your grocery, try the Latin/Mexican section. That’s often where they stock the ancho chile powder.
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1.25-1.5 lbs. total)
2.5 tablespoons ancho chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, large dice
1 cup rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup cilantro
1/2 to 1 cup salsa, such as Smoky Chipotle Salsa, or chipotle hot sauce for serving
Heat the oil in a medium-large heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt and 1 tablespoon of the ancho chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible in the pot.
Add the diced onions and the rice to the pot. Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1.5 tablespoons of ancho chili powder. Cook for one minute, and then add the broth and salt to taste. Stir well. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Cut the chicken breast into 1″ pieces. Add them to the pot along with the beans. Re-cover and cook 12 minutes longer.
Test a kernel of rice and make sure there’s no hint of chalkiness at in the center. If it’s not cooked, cover again and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until done. If it is done, cover, remove from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes.
Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with lots of Smokey Chipotle Salsa.