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Classic Island Peas And Rice.

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Classic Island Peas And Rice.

This is a repeat of the original peas and rice recipe I posted a while back, however this time we’re using fresh kidney beans and not the stuff from the can. In that rice and peas recipe there was a lot of discussion about the real name.. is it rice and peas or peas and rice. But here’s the funny part.. we’re not even using peas, but beans. This peas and rice dish is normally associated with Jamaica and quite rightly so, however just about every island in the Caribbean does a version of rice and peas. My daughters refer to this dish as the spicy rice with the beanies (anything with peas or beans are called beanies), as I love to burst the scotch bonnet pepper near the end of cooking to release all that wonderful Caribbean vibe! We’ll get to that later on in the recipe.

You’ll Need…

1/2 cup red kidney beans (dry)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs thyme
2 cups long grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 scallions
2 cups water

Note: If you have whole pimento berries (allspice) feel free to use about 3 instead of the ground allspice.

Quickly go through the dried kidney beans to remove any debris which may be among them (I’ve seen little pebbles in the past as well as twigs). Then rinse with cool water, drain and place in a bowl. Now add the 2 cups of water and allow to soak for a couple hours. Overnight is probably best as it will cook much faster. Then pour everything into a deep sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Chop the scallion, onion and garlic and add it to the pot as well. Same for the salt, black pepper, all spice and toss in the sprigs of thyme. Don’t worry about the sprigs as we can remove it when the dish is done cooking.. we want maximum flavor from the thyme sprigs. As it comes to a boil, drop in the scotch bonnet pepper whole into the pot. This will give us a ton of flavor and not that raw heat scotch bonnet peppers are infamous for. Place the lid on your pot and reduce to a gentle simmer.

We’re trying to get the kidney beans tender before adding the rice, but at the same time we’re building a wicked flavor base.

Your kitchen will have a lovely aroma as this simmer away. Depending on how long you pre-soak your beans, it should take anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour to get tender. They will plum up and the water will take on a lovely reddish colour.. this will help add that unique color when we add the rice. I had soaked my beans for 2 hrs and it took 40 minutes to get tender enough for me to continue.

Now it’s time to wash your rice. Traditionally the rice is placed in a bowl with water, you then massage with your hands. The action will cause the white grit and impurities from the polishing of the rice to cause the water to go cloudy. Drain that water out and repeat until you no longer have that cloudy appearance. Recently I adopted a new method for washing my rice though.. I place the rice in a strainer, then allow water to pour over it as I work my hand/fingers through it. This method works like a charm and it so much easier to strain and place in the pot.

Now add the washed rice to the pot with the now plump beans and give it a good stir. Add the coconut milk, then bring back to a boil (I’ve seen some people put a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the pot at this time as well) … then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, put the lid on the pot and allow to cook. Depending on the rice you use (no 2 brands cook the same), it can take between 25 minutes and 40 minutes to fully cook.

The liquid will burn off slowly as the rice cooks away, so keep an eye on things.. in the event your rice is not fully cooked, you may need to add a little water or coconut milk. I like my peas and rice grainy, but if you like the rice a bit more creamy you may need a bit more liquid and cooking time.

Remember to remove the sprigs from the thyme and don’t forget that scotch bonnet pepper. You can certainly burst it open and release the heat or fish it out and discard. However I’m sure one of your family members or friends may appreciate the pepper (set it aside for them). Rice and peas is a sort of tricky dish to prepare as it can be a bit hard to get that perfect texture, where it’s grainy and not soggy. Following this recipe and with close attention near the end of cooking and I’m sure you’ll have a tasty peas and rice dish. Remember that the rice will continue cooking after the stove is turned off, from the residual heat. I usually take mine off the stove when it’s 95%  cooked, so the residual heat will finish it off for me.

I do hope you give this recipe a try and don’t forget to share it with family and friends.. that’s a huge part of being from the Caribbean and adopting our lifestyle.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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