Gallo pinto: 87 cents/serving

I committed a cardinal sin today. Something I’m deeply ashamed to admit I even have on hand, let alone would use on a weekend.

I used canned beans.

Two cans, to be exact. And they weren’t even dented off-brand versions on markdown at Grocery Outlet; they were name brand beans. For reasons that remain unclear even to me, I bought an entire case of S&W black beans at Costco about six months ago. It has been sitting in our basement ever since, where I’ve successfully been pretending it didn’t exist. Until today, of course. I spent the majority of the morning baking bread and was just flat-out too lazy tired from all that effort to deal with soaking and cooking beans. I’d like to say the canned beans were a horrible mistake and I deeply regret it and will never in my life do it again, but I freely admit they worked better for this dish than dried beans would have.

I poured the contents of both cans, viscous bean juice and all, into the pot, and, to my surprise, the bean juice managed to meld everything together in a cohesive mass of texture and flavor. Because this recipe makes at least five generous servings, I don’t feel as bad about using the canned beans, price-wise. (But I still feel bad.)

Anyhoo, what the hell even is gallo pinto? It’s Costa Rica’s national dish. We were there this summer, and because we were on the coast and I can’t eat seafood (I try it every year, but it pushes some sort of primitive “Rotten: Do Not Eat” button in my brain), I ate a lot of gallo pinto as part of casados. At its heart casados is a combination plate of gallo pinto, a small salad, and a fried plantain, although we bore witness to a range of interpretations; some successful (tortillas), some not so much (beets). In any case, gallo pinto is cheap, healthy, and makes a lot, which is perfect for days when you’re intentionally aiming for leftovers.

2 cans black beans: $2
1 red bell pepper, chopped: $1
5 T worcestershire sauce (or Lizano sauce, if you can find it): 40 cents
3 cups chicken broth made with Better Than Bouillon, OR vegetable broth: 45 cents
Leaves from 1/2 bunch of cilantro (left over from pho): 19 cents
2 T olive oil (left over from roasting tomatoes last week): 10 cents
1 1/2 cups dry medium-grain white rice (from a 30-lb. Costco bag that cost like $7): 10 cents
3 cloves garlic, chopped (1/4 of a 25-cent head): 8 cents
Kosher salt to taste: 1 cent
1 medium-sized onion from the yard, chopped: $0
Total: $4.33/5 very generous servings: 87 cents/serving 

Cook the rice in the broth however you usually cook rice. (I use a rice cooker.)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepot over medium-high heat, add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until translucent and soft, about 5-6 minutes, add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Dump in the contents of the two bean cans, add the worcestershire sauce and salt to taste, and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

When the rice is done, stir it into the bean mixture, adding water or chicken broth if necessary to loosen the consistency. Serve with cilantro on top.

One response to “Gallo pinto: 87 cents/serving

  1. No guilt! If you factor in the energy you have to use to cook dry beans, canned beans are definitely a bargain.

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