“Remember, one cannot throw a successful party without successful guests.” ~ Amy Sedaris
I promise you this story is true.
This week I learned from The Washington Post that Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Nelson Cruz provides home-cooked Dominican meals to the Dominican ballplayers on other teams who visit Baltimore during the season. Cruz is not alone in this courtesy – apparently a whole lot of Dominican players make sure that visiting players are well fed with “food from home.”
I decided that if Cruz could be such a good host to his guests, then I should make some authentic Dominican beans and rice for you, my blog guests. (And, to be honest, I really wanted to know what was so special about Dominican food that players felt the need to create this underground home-cooking pipeline.)
And, as I stood in line at the grocery store this morning – my cart filled with the fixings – I said to Editor/Husband, “If Nelson Cruz hits a home run today, he can come to dinner, too.”
I think Nellie heard me.
Because, he hit two. And, a triple. And, had ALL seven RBI in a game the Orioles won 7-5 over the Tampa Bay Rays. Here’s one …
Holy cow, these beans are magic!
Eleven percent of major league ballplayers today are from the Dominican Republic.
“I love my Dominican food,” Cruz told The Post. “And the day I don’t eat my rice and Dominican food, I don’t feel good. I know other Dominicans feel that way, too. Knowing how they suffer away from home, I try to make their day and visit more comfortable by bringing them food, too.”
Cruz is on his way to Boston this evening (where I hope David Ortiz of the Red Sox will have a hearty meal waiting for him).
I sure wish I could share this meal and make your day more comfortable. Because it was deee-licious.
At least I can share my recipe.
And, it’s worth the trouble to soak the beans and find the proper ingredients. (Every Latin ingredient you need should be at your local grocery, although Editor/Husband and I had a very nice time checking out all the corner mercados in nearby Culpeper yesterday.)
From here on out, these are …
Nelson’s Magic Beans & Rice with Sautéed Vegetables
(Feeds Nelson Cruz and a couple other friends)
One-half lb. dried red kidney beans
(To soften beans: In a big pot, pour 5 cups boiling water over the beans and let them sit overnight. They’ll plump up and you’ll have about 4 cups of beans after soaking.)
For the Beans & Rice:
One-half red onion, chopped fine
One-half Cubanelle pepper, chopped fine
One clove garlic, chopped
2 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TBS olive oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp fresh (or 1 tsp dried) thyme
1 TBS Sofrito (Goya has MSG. I’ll make my own next time.)
1 pack Sazon Tropical (Badio brand only. Easy to make your own … but this one is MSG free and works a-ok.)
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup alcaparrados, chopped (it’s a mixture of olives and capers. Be sure to pit the olives!)
4 oz. Spanish tomato sauce (Goya brand)
1 bay leaf
2 cups rice
2+ cups vegetable broth
Here’s what you’ll need. (I don’t know why that celery’s in there.)
In a medium pot, add softened beans, salt, and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for an hour … or maybe a little more. Drain and set the beans aside (save the liquid).
In the pot, add olive oil, onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro. Sauté on medium for a few minutes to soften.
Add salt, pepper, thyme, sofrito, sazon, and vinegar. Stir well.
Add the olives/capers, tomato sauce, and bay leaf. Return the beans to the pot and stir.
Cook on medium for about 5 minutes. (Add a splash of the bean water if things seem too dry.)
Rinse the rice and add to the pot. Stir in vegetable broth.
Bring to a boil. Turn heat way down and cover tightly. White rice will take about 25-30 minutes. Check after 15 minutes; if it’s getting dry add some of the bean water to moisten. Cover again and finish the cooking. When rice is tender, take off heat and let it rest while you make …
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
4 cups of whatever fresh summer vegetables you have, chopped. (I used one small eggplant, a red pepper, a stalk of celery, and a zucchini.)
One-half cup corn (frozen or fresh)
2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp capers
Salt/Pepper to taste
2 cups spinach chopped
2 TBS cilantro, chopped
A little bit of that leftover bean water (I told you to keep it!)
In a skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil and butter together. Add the fresh vegetables, cook until they just begin to soften. Add the corn, oregano, capers, salt, and pepper.
Stir occasionally until all the vegetables are just cooked through. (10 to 20 minutes depending on what vegetables you have.) If things get dry, add a few spoonfuls of the leftover bean water.
Fold in spinach and cilantro.
Cook just until spinach wilts and turns bright green.
Hit Home Runs. Win Game.
The finished product looks wonderful. Has Nelson knocked on your door yet? Has Editor/Husband opted to try out for a baseball team? It is clearly a magical dish.
Nope, Nelson didn’t drop by. I hope he had a good night’s sleep in Boston last night so he can hit a few over the Green Monster tonight. The Washington Post story said that David Ortiz of the Sox provides the Dominican home-cooking at Fenway for his “guests”. I hope he came through for Nellie! As for Randy, there’s a lot more Dominican cooking in his future — I have a ton of recipes I collected this past week that I’m still playing with. And, Randy suggests that we may need to eat the Magic Beans & Rice nightly through the World Series … for luck, of course! :)
I just soaked and cooked beans yesterday. Rice too. Had I known this D.R. recipe was good luck, I’d have changed things up before the Giants took the field. Looks like there wasn’t any home cooking shared in Detroit yesterday.
Joaquin Arias is Dominican so he should get a power boost from the lucky beans. You would just need to make a few little adjustments to the recipe to provide some magic for Angel Pagan (who is Puerto Rican): Leave out the rice/broth, and add some chopped winter squash (or pumpkin) and some diced potatoes instead. You will still need a little bit of broth for this. This may help Javier Lopez too … who was born in Puerto Rico, but who I have always known as a Northern Virginia kid who went to the University of Virginia.
I’m still hoping for an Orioles – Giants World Series. :)
Rice and Boston-baked beans, which I’m not sure has anything to do with Bean Town. I wouldn’t doubt Cruz has a place in mind to dine when he visits Major League Cities… or he makes his own in the hotel room. The man is so strong I wonder if a graphite golf shaft would stay intact from his swing. He makes MLB fences appear too close. It’s a good thing the Orioles took a chance on him. There’s nothing to say he wouldn’t accept a dinner invitation to celebrate the postseason. Go ahead and ask him.
You should check out the Washington Post article I link to, it’s really really cool. And, it specifically names Cruz, Ortiz and others (including Albert Pujols in Los Angeles and Robinson Cano in Seattle) who provide home-cooked meals for visiting Dominican players, because that cuisine is apparently difficult to find in most cities. As I researched Dominican cookbooks and recipes in the last week I have a better understanding of how very different Dominican food is from Puerto Rican from Cuban from Central American from Mexican, etc. When I was searching in Culpeper for ingredients, I discovered that the mercados there were all very Salvadoran. Then I searched around right here in Orange and found all the Caribbean ingredients I needed. Who knew? :)
While Ubaldo Jimenez lived here in Denver, his mom was known for her cooking of Latino dishes and inviting the Latino players in for home cooked meals. Wonder if he still does this? Enjoyed the recipe idea, but I think its gonnna be a hard sell here! Perhaps adding ground chicken or beef may help!
Thanks for a fun blog entry!
Thanks, Sharon! Ubaldo and his mother are mentioned in the Washington Post story so maybe his mother is sharing the cooking duties with Nelson Cruz’s mother and wife! In any event, while my beans and rice seemed to have magical powers when it came to Nellie’s playing this week (and Alejandro De Aza’s as well), I’m afraid that I’ll need to find a lot more mojo to help straighten out poor Ubaldo’s terrible pitching. :(
If I’d had this recipe thirty-five years ago, maybe I could hit the fastball.
And, to think … all these players were taking steroids and HGH and other PEDs … when it turns out a plate of beans and rice was all they needed.
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