Cuban style “Arroz con Frijoles” with Mojo and Crispy Plantains
Created by Chef John McConnell, executive chef, Clif Family Winery, for Almond Board of California
1 quart – whole, unroasted, blanched almonds (to be roasted)
2 quarts – filtered water
Almond “beans” with sofrito
½ cup – bacon fat
1 each – medium onion, small diced
1 each – yellow and red bell pepper, seeded and small diced
½ cup – garlic, minced
½ cup – tomato paste
1 TBSP – cumin powder
*all – toasted and soaked almonds
2 each – bay leaves
1 quart – chicken stock
2 TBSP – kosher salt
1 quart – basmati or long grain rice
2 quarts – almond soaking water and water
1 TBSP – almond oil
1 TBSP – kosher salt
10 cloves of garlic, minced
1 each – serrano chile, minced with seeds
¼ cup – orange juice, fresh
¼ cup – lime juice, fresh
¼ cup – almond oil
1 tsp – kosher salt
1 tsp – dried oregano
1 tsp – fresh oregano, chopped
¼ tsp – cumin powder
2 each – green plantains, peeled and sliced Salt
1 bunch – cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
Day before. Toast one quart on blanched, raw almonds at 350F for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Once cool, transfer the almonds to a container and add two quarts of filtered water in container and allow the almonds to soak overnight.
Day of, begin preparing the almond “beans” in sofrito as they will need some time to cook. In a braising pan or sauce pot, add bacon fat and render. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Once the garlic has color, add the onion and peppers to stop caramelization of the garlic. Sweat the onion and peppers until soft and tender. Add the cumin to release the fragrance before adding the tomato paste and sauté until the tomato paste has incorporated with the rest of the sofrito. Add the soaked almonds to the pot and begin to sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, salt and bring to a boil. Once to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to a simmer. Transfer the beans to a 350F oven and cook for 5-6 hours until the almond “beans” are soft and tender. Remove from heat but keep the pot covered.
While the almond “beans” are cooking, prepare the plantains. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skins from the green plantains. They will be much more difficult to peel than a banana. Once peeled, cut in half length-wise to split into two halves. Using a mandolin, slice 1/8” thick and slice length-wise to make long strips of crispy plantains. After slicing, allow the plantains to be soaked in cold water to help remove excess starch. This can be done the day before and held in the fridge. After the plantains have been removed from the water, strain the best you can and season lightly with salt and set aside. Prepare a pot of vegetable oil and bring temperature to 325F for frying. Fry 3-5 pieces a time until golden brown and strain over a stack of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Season with salt immediately. Hold aside until rice is ready to serve.
Begin to prepare the rice. Add the rice, almond soaking water, any additional water needed, salt and almond oil. Bring the rice to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 13 minutes. Once water has been absorbed, fluff the rice with a fork and keep covered off the heat.
Prepare the mojo sauce by adding all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving dish for the table.
Coarsely chop cilantro to garnish the over the rice and almonds “beans”.
To serve, scoop rice onto a large platter and top with almond “beans” with sofrito. Make sure to scoop some of the cooking liquid over the rice as well. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve alongside the plantain chips and mojo sauce.