I may have mentioned it before, but I spent 3 years living and working in Costa Rica it has to be my favourite place on earth, the people, the environment, the climate (yes even the rain) and also the food – although I must say when I returned I did refuse to eat rice for around 4 months. I’m loving that I’m now able to pass on this experience to my kids and even though we live in the UK and I’m itching to return to my home away from home with them we can still learn about the country through activities and food as well as start to learn the language. Rice and beans are a staple for the majority of families in Costa Rica, there are various combinations and ways that they are presented but my up most favourite is Gallo Pinto – traditionally served for breakfast although I have eaten it at lunch and dinner as well it’s a mixed up dish that is eaten the country over and served with eggs, plantains and some form of meat for breakfast normally.
I was lucky that I lived with a Tico family for my 3 years in the country and with friends and other family members as I traveled around – 11 years on and I am still in contact with them through social media and being introduced to the new generation of the family and I introduce them to our kids as well. The Matriarch of the family, Doña Sylvia taught me how to make the recipe and if I am feeling nostalgic I like to make the recipe with the kids.
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Ingredients for Gallo Pinto
1lb of small dried red kidney beans – I know on the Pacific Coast that they use Black Beans but traditionally on the Caribbean where I was based red beans are used
A handful of coriander leaves (Cilantro for the US readers)
1 Onion – finely chopped. I use the blade in my food processor to get the onions chopped fine
Small red pepper
3 cups of chicken stock from a cube
2 cups of white rice
Good pinch of salt – I do like my Gallo Pinto Salty and when I’ve made it with the kids I tend to cut back on this
Making Gallo Pinto
The secret to Gallo Pinto is to make it the night before and reheat it the next morning so this is what we do. Check the instructions on your beans and see how much soaking they need to have before use then follow this. When you have soaked the beans drain and add to a pan.
Add water to around an inch above the top of the beans and boil and simmer for around 3 hours – I did say this was a make the day before dish! – add in the salt. The beans will be nice a soft and delicious.
In a food processor and the blade, add the onion, pepper and leaves from the coriander and chop up very small. How I wish I had had this when I was out in Costa Rica but as we had no electricity it was all done by hand and the number of cuts I got was amazing.
Heat a splash of oil in a pan and add the dry rice to saute then added some of your chopped mix and the stock and boil the rice for the amount of time on your packet.
When the rice is cooked and your beans are cooked, drain a little of the water from the beans but leave some and add the rice plus the rest of your chopped onion, pepper and coriander. Leave the mix overnight in a covered bowl in the fridge.
When it’s time to eat, heat some oil in a pan and add your rice and bean mix to the pan and saute again. Serve with egg – I like scrambled egg with mine but fried works as well and your choice of meat like Sauchichon.
- 1 lb of small dried red kidney beans
- leaves A handful of coriander Cilantro for the US readers
- 1 Onion
- Small red pepper
- 3 cups of chicken stock from a cube
- 2 cups of white rice
- Good pinch of salt
- Vegetable Oil
Soak the beans according to the instructions
Add to a pan and cover with water so that there is over an inch above the beans add your salt
Simmer for around 3 hours until the beans are soft
Chop the coriander, onion and red pepper very small
Heat up some vegetable oil in pan
Saute the rice with half of the chopped onion, pepper and coriander
Cover with the chicken stock and boil until the rice is cooked
Drain the rice and partially drain the black beans
Mix together and place in the fridge overnight
When it's time to serve, heat some more oil in a pan
Add the mix and saute to heat up and serve for breakfast
Around the world in 30 days
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