Caribbean-style Beans and Rice
- 4 slices smoked bacon or 1 small ham hock
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 cup dried red kidney beans, brought to a boil and cooled, drained
- 5 cups cold water
- 1 Scotch bonnet, halved and seeded, or 2 serrano chilis
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 4 scallions, crushed*
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups long-grain rice, washed and drained
Heat a Dutch oven or large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon to the hot pot and cook until light brown on both sides. Add the garlic and saute until light brown. Add the drained beans along with the cold water to the bacon and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until beans are just tender, about 1 hour. Add the chili peppers, cinnamon, coconut milk, scallions, thyme, allspice, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and, once the mixture has returned to a boil, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Remove the thyme sprigs and Scotch bonnet pepper halves and serve.
**It is traditional to "crush" scallions by placing them on a cutting board and lightly tapping them with the handle of a knife. They can then be removed before serving but still impart their wonderful flavor to the rice and beans.
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