Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Starving Actor: Beans and Rice

You're home between shifts, and you've got JUST enough time for lunch. You want some protein and some carbs and you just wanna eat all of it

But all you've got is rice and a can of beans.

That's alright. With a little effort, we can make this meal a little less depressing.

Beans and Rice

A tablespoon of oil (and some more on standby)
About 2 cups of rice
A small onion
A medium clove of garlic (or garlic powder)
1 15.5 oz. can of beans (black or kidney)

[Unlike carbonara, this recipe is very free form. There's a wider margin of error, and more leeway when it comes to things like seasoning and consistency.]

First off, cook some rice. Put a little less than two cups of rice in your rice cooker, and cook to your preferred level of dryness/stickiness.

If you don't have a rice cooker, then, Jesus, I'm sorry. Get one. This one was $20 at a local hardware and kitchenry store. They're so convenient for poor artists.

If you don't have a rice cooker, cook rice the way that you normally cook rice: take a little pot, some some rice in, put in double the amount of water, cook it on medium-low with the lid on, and don't take that lid off.

ANYWAY, while the rice is doing its thing,

Finely chop a small onion and mince a medium-sized clove of garlic. Or a large-sized clove of garlic. If you love it, then just HAVE it.

Now, we're going to start by cooking the onion and garlic in a fat of your choice. The healthy choice would be olive/vegetable/canola oil. Doing so would keep this meal completely vegan.

I went with bacon grease. Since we have so much.

Over medium heat, put about a tablespoon of oil/grease into a small pot (or saucepan as fancy recipe magazines tend to call them - they look like pots to me).

What I like to do to move things along is tilt the pot slightly so the fat makes a little pool. If you shake and angle the pot, you can use that little pool to coat the whole cooking surface.

Now throw that damn onion and garlic in there. Give them a stir (Use the fork you plan on eating it with to save time later during clean-up!) to make sure that they're evenly coated with your oil/grease.

If it seems a little dry in there and some of your onion is lacking shine, feel free to add a little more fat, like I did. You don't want to sautee these guys so much as you wanna soften them. This is gonna be the foundation on which we build our beans.

So we're gonna zap 'em with a little flavor. Add about three shakes each salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. You can do a little more or a little less of each depending on your preferences.

I just realized that the paprika is kinda creeping behind oregano there. What are you doing? Get outta there. We don't need you.

Give it a stir and cover until onion is softer and just turning translucent. Drop the heat slightly to avoid browning the onion. Interestingly, this lid does not belong to this pot, but it works!

Meanwhile: the rice cooker is cooking the rice. I don't even HAVE to pay attention to this thing. When it's done, I'll have cooked rice. How great is this


Get your beans ready. Black beans or red kidney beans work best. And always Goya. Goya will never let you down. I fucking swear by Goya.

Once the onion is mostly cooked through - that is, soft and definitely no longer raw - pour in those beans, liquid and all. Give it a stir and crank the heat. Get it to a simmer.

Check it out! I found the queen bean! Incidentally, I guess you shouldn't buy Goya if you're vegan.

Time to season again! Hit your beans with salt and pepper.

Then stir again, cover, and keep the heat on so the beans continue to simmer.

In my travels, I've learned the advantages to cooking something in a pot or pan with or without a lid.

With a lid
Liquid is conserved, keeping contents wetter and soupier.
Heat is conserved, making the boiling point much easier to reach.
All the ingredients within soften and share flavors, like a swingers party.

Without a lid
Liquid is reduced, making contents less watery and more viscous.
Heat is reduced, allowing cooking without fear of liquid boiling over.

When it comes to cooking something like beans, combining covered and uncovered cooking is the way you achieve the results you need.

While the beans are having a flavor party, let's fluff rice! Fluffing the rice and mixing it up makes it happy, and makes it so that it doesn't just form into a mold of the pot it's been cooking in.

Uncover the beans and take a few out for taste testing. They should be soft and, most importantly, taste good. Mine didn't right away, and I was a little concerned at the paleness of the whole affair.

Last time I did this, it was with black beans, and the liquid black beans come in are closer to the color of the beans themselves. Kidney bean liquid is paler, which can be a little off-putting.

So, I put a little paprika in there, which I was so ready to shun earlier.

At this point it's a waiting game. The longer the beans cook, the softer they will get, and the smoother the concoction on the whole will seem.

At 10 more minutes, my beans were looking a lot healthier, as the paprika did its thing and the excess liquid began to disappear. Give it another taste test before you commit to declaring the meal a success.

Once it's to your liking, put your beans over some rice and enjoy a simple-ass meal with plenty of rice and protein. I had OJ with mine, and it worked for me.

You can also fill that bean can with change and then shake it to stop dogs from barking.

Yeah, you stupid idiot, you have no idea what you're in for.

Hey, wait a minute.

There's already a recipe for rice and beans on the back of the can!

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