Monday, July 9, 2007

Upscale gallo pinto

Dinner came together very well and very quickly. We doubled the number of dinner guests at the last minute so I sent Mike to the local butcher for some chicken breasts on which I put a chili powder dry rub on and he grilled to perfection. I also sliced and grilled zucchini and garnished them with queso fresco.

The Caribbean Rice and Beans with Spiced Coconut Gravy dish worked out beautifully but the recipe definitely needed tweeked to get the flavoring right. Below is my revised version of the recipe.

Caribbean Rice and Beans
(5-6 servings, takes 30 minutes to make)

1 small onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked, white rice (can be made ahead and chilled)
1 cup cooked black beans (1 can)
2/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 can)
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute onions and peppers in the canola oil for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another minute or so. Incorporate the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. This will occur quickly and the remaining dish will be the consistency of risotto. Adjust the flavors to your liking. Cover and keep warm while you make the gravy.

Coconut Gravy
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 can)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

In a 4 quart saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a gentle boil. Add curry, sugar, soy sauce, and lemon juice, and simmer for two minutes. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until there are no lumps. Add to coconut-curry mixture and whisk until the gravy thickens.

To serve, make a bed of the rice mixture, garnish with cilantro or avocado and pour the gravy on top.
In addition to the above menu, I put out the bottle of the infamous Lizano Salsa that I brought back from Costa Rica. Our dinner guests poured this cumin-flavored salsa liberally and it really tied the entire meal together.

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