My Do’s and Don’ts for cooking Rice and Beans

October 31, 2015

My Do’s and Don’ts for cooking Rice and Beans

Every time someone mentions rice and beans I cannot help myself thinking about the numerous times I have witnessed a discussion about which Caribbean Island or which country makes the best rice and beans. If I state that I believe Haitians makes the best rice and beans, I will probably start a virtual discussion I will not win because it all depends on taste. I grew up eating any rice and beans dish cooked with spices; it is the Haitian way I know and prefer. Not all Haitians make the best rice and beans, and indeed, not everyone makes the best rice and beans. I like my rice grainy. A rice dish should not have the same consistency as porridge unless that was the intent. The dish should not be pasty like baked macaroni and cheese if that were not the intention either. The perfect rice and beans should be cooked properly, must be tasty and full of flavor.

A rice and beans dish needs spices! You cannot make rice and beans with just salt and pepper. If you do, you will not be satisfied, and you will undoubtedly miss on savoring a great dish. You can use whatever dried beans you want, but spices are a must. Rice and Beans must be made the proper way. Cook your beans first and then mix it with your rice and spices. The reason for using dried beans is because when cooking with dried beans, you get not only the full nutrients but also the beans are cooked with fresh spices such as scallions and garlic and sometimes salted meat. This is the starting point of a good rice and beans dish.

When using canned beans to make rice and beans, you do not get the full nutrients, and the taste of the additives and other ingredients added overwhelm the taste of the whole dish. That is why cooking with fresh spices is the best way to obtain real flavors. We all grew up with fresh ingredients at some point or another, and for many reasons, we change our ways because we want shortcuts.

I cannot forget about coconut. Many islanders add coconut to their rice dishes and I certain many other countries do it as well. When adding coconut, one must be very careful because it is not all rice dishes that go well with coconut. Fresh coconut is the best way to get the full flavor in this instance.

Let’s start with the don’ts first:

  • Never use canned beans if you want to have a great rice and beans dish.
  • Don’t buy a cheap brand of dried beans. Many brands require long hours of soaking and others don’t keep their shape. These beans are not cultivated the right way.
  • Do not use a thin bottom pan to cook rice and beans because you will end up with a messy and burnt dish
  • Don’t just add salt and pepper. You are cooking with natural ingredients/foods made by Mother Nature, therefore, add fresh spices.

The Do’s

  • Always soak the beans before cooking. This will help the beans cook faster.
  • Cook your beans with spices, preferably garlic and scallions and no salt. If you use salt when boiling the beans, it will be challenging to get the taste you want, and the dish may be too salty. You may use salted meat but not that much.
  • In the heavy bottom pot or pan, you will be cooking the rice, fry your spice mixture first, usually scallion, garlic, salt, pepper, whole cloves, parsley, and thyme. You can also add small pieces of salted meat if preferred.
  • Always use the ratio 2 to 1. Two cups of water/beans liquid for 1 cup of rice.

The last “do” will depend on the type of rice you are accustomed to. I usually add 1 ½ cup of liquid to 1 cup of rice. I prefer to use my preferred brand of basmati rice. This way I am guaranteed an excellent grainy rice and beans dish. If you prefer you can also fry the rice with the beans and spices before adding any liquid. That will help the rice to cook faster but always add less than the recommend liquid ratio. And lastly, we all love to stir and mix ingredients. When making rice and beans, avoid over stirring, this might cause the rice to be soppy. You may want to try my rice and red beans recipe as a start.

The perfect rice and beans dish


Now let’s enjoy it with a delicious meat dish. Happy Cooking!



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