Christmas Eve

Congrí (Cuban Black Beans & Rice)

May 14, 2020
8 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 12 to 16 as a side, 8 as a main
Author Notes

Congrí is a quintessentially Cuban take on beans and rice. In this dish, black beans and rice are cooked together—rather than separately—which gives the rice its signature congrí (with gray) shade. This also makes it a bit drier, though it’s an equally delicious transformation.

Instead of traditional Goya Canilla rice, my dad always uses parboiled, meaning it’s already been partially boiled in the husk; he swears it ensures the perfect al dente bite. It took him years to reveal to me the secret to his silky, surprisingly flavorful white rice: garlic cloves sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil. I spent countless nights in my dad’s dining room, inhaling bowl after bowl of plain arroz dashed with long drizzles of Frank’s RedHot hot sauce. I’d even ask him to whip up a pot for me to take back to college when I was home for the weekend.

In my dad’s family, congrí was typically served in large quantities as a side for dishes like ropa vieja or vaca frita (fried beef) at Nochebuena parties and other family gatherings. I, on the other hand, remember congrí as an entrée all its own, enhanced with my dad’s signature substitute for classic bacon: spicy Spanish chorizo.

I recommend soaking the beans overnight, but you don’t necessarily need to. If you choose not to soak them, simply skip the second step—just take note that you’ll need to cook the beans anywhere from two to two-and-a-half hours. —Taryn Pire

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 large Spanish onions, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 dry Spanish chorizo sausages, diced
  • 4 cups parboiled long-grain white rice
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon adobo all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Pick through one pound of dried black beans. Throw away all pebbles that may have made their way into the bag; they’ll be white or gray in color and likely smaller than the beans. Rinse the beans in a strainer under running water, running your hand through them to ensure all beans get washed.
  2. To soak the beans: Add the beans to a medium-size pot filled with the water (there should be about 1 inch of extra water covering the beans) and bring to a boil. Cover and turn off the flame. Let them soak overnight.
  3. The next day, bring the pot back up to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium. Add the bay leaf and cover the pot.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot set over medium heat, sauté the bell peppers, onions, and garlic cloves in the olive oil. Once they start to soften and become translucent, add the chorizo.
  5. When the chorizo is a bit browned, add in the uncooked rice and stir thoroughly. (Be sure to add the rice before the vegetables are totally browned.)
  6. When the uncooked rice is fully coated in the oil and combined with the other ingredients, add the cumin and adobo. Stir to combine, then turn off the heat and let the mixture sit until the beans are ready to be added to the pot.
  7. Once the beans are chewable but not mushy, about 60 to 90 minutes, turn off the heat. Let them sit, covered, in their broth for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Once the beans have partially cooled, remove the bay leaf. Then, drain the beans, taking care to reserve 4 to 6 cups of the boiling liquid (aka bean broth). Add that broth to the larger stock pot with the rice. Turn the heat back on to high, and stir thoroughly. Note: The amount of broth can vary; if there are less than 6 cups of broth, substitute the remainder with water to keep the ratio of 1 ½ cups of liquid to each cup of rice.
  9. Promptly stir the beans into the rice so they don’t dry without the broth. Stir until the mixture reaches a light boil. Cover, bring the heat down as low as possible, and let simmer.
  10. After roughly 20 minutes, uncover the beans and rice. Stir with a long fork, doing your best not to break the beans. Be sure to reach the bottom of the pot with the fork so the rice doesn’t stick and burn.
  11. After stirring, cover the pot again for about 5 minutes and let cook on low heat. At that point, the rice has likely soaked up most of the broth, so the congrí should be rather dry. If you prefer your rice and beans on the wetter side, cover the pot for 2 to 3 minutes instead.
  12. Turn off the heat, and add the cilantro and salt to taste. Give it one final stir before serving warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ginny
  • Smaug
  • Taryn Pire
    Taryn Pire
  • Aerocat51
Taryn Pire is the associate food editor at PureWow. A graduate of Ithaca College, she's covered all things food at New Jersey Family, GOOD, Taste Talks, and ANNA Magazine. Tacos are the way to her heart and she makes a mean Old Fashioned. Follow her food adventures on Instagram @cookingwithpire.

27 Reviews

Aerocat51 April 4, 2022
I am not a cook. I suck at flavors. But I followed your recipe to a “t” with the minor addition of some lime juice (also cooked the beans in the instant pot) and my husband told me it tasted like it came from the best little hole in the wall restaurant he’s been to. He said it tasted like it was cooked with love and years of experience. I give credit where it is due - thank you for an amazing recipe!!!
NXL September 23, 2021
This is very tasty. I agree with suggestions to add a squeeze of lemon at the end, top with chopped red onion, and use half as much rice.
Dmosteiko May 1, 2021
WOW! This dish is amazing! I only had regular chorizo so I can only imagine how much more wonderful it is with the dried chorizo. You must make this dish. Full disclosure: I have no idea what it “should” taste like because I’ve never enjoyed Congri before. 😋
Regine June 19, 2020
Is it possible to veganize the dish by replacing the chorizo? Hoiw much seasoned tofu should be added? Thanks.
Taryn P. June 19, 2020
Hi! We always use a 3.5-ounce package of chorizo, so I’d imagine you can substitute tofu in equal parts. You can also just omit the chorizo and serve as a side dish with a vegetarian main. Good luck!
Sandra H. June 19, 2020
If you are near a Trader Joe's supermarket they sell an excellent Soy Chorizo you might want to consider trying.
Regine June 19, 2020
Thank you Sandra! I live in Canada. No Trader Joe's here. I wish we had those instead of McDonalds and Co!! I do have a good recipe for soy chorizo, though.
Regine September 23, 2021
Thank you!
HFog June 10, 2020
Loved this recipe and so did the entire family. Thank you!
Taryn P. June 19, 2020
Awesome, glad you liked!
HFog June 10, 2020
Is the rice already parboiled before you add to pan? Or are we starting with uncooked rice?
Taryn P. June 10, 2020
Hi! It’s already been parboiled when you buy it; it’s just the type of rice my dad uses. You start with uncooked. Good luck!
HFog June 10, 2020
Thank you!
Lynn D. May 17, 2020
I had to make some substitutions because I shop infrequently these days. Made my own Adobo seasoning and used more because I used ground beef instead of chorizo, leftover jasmine rice and home cooked dried black beans. It was really gray, but totally delicious, even left over. I served it with red onion slices pickled in lime juice.
Ginny May 17, 2020
Loved reading your article interspersing anecdotes, history and the recipe. Brought a lot of memories to this Cuban ( born in Cuba and have been here since 1960!). Will have to try your version of Moros y Cristianos using chorizo. As a comment to Smaug - you can get Adobo seasoning through a few other companies besides Goya. I had found one that I loved but threw the darn bottle away! I just bought another one by Frontier Coop that is organic which is pretty good. I don't like using Goya because it used to use MSG and regular salt which I don't like to use. BTW, no. to substituting regular American Chili powder; is not a good substitute. The use of the Adobo seasoning is a good shortcut to add extra flavor. People are surprised - Cuban food which has a ton of flavor does not normally use spicy and other kinds of chilies as Mexican food does (I like Mexican food but it is totally different!) Taryn, again thank you for the great article!
Smaug May 17, 2020
I'd just like to know what's in the stuff- I generally avoid premixed spice blends because, for one thing, they're usually some sort of compromise as opposed to spicing a particular dish and for another they usually emphasize cheaper ingredients- particularly dried garlic and onion, which I find abominable. I have found a number of other recipes for this dish that are more specific as to ingredients (though I have to wonder if they're calling for Cuban oregano, European oregano, Mexican Oregano?), but this one seems to be quite specific to the brands mentioned. The chorizo in particular is in question- I'm familiar with various sorts of Spanish and Mexican chorizo and Portuguese chourico, but they cover a huge amount of ground and I've no idea if Goya brand is close to any of them; it seems to be a sort of general Latin American -or maybe just Carribean- brand.
Ginny May 17, 2020
The Organic Frontier Adobo's ingredients: Sea Salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, oregano, bay leaf and turmeric. I think the one I just finished using up was Simply Organic brand with almost identical ingredients but I liked a bit better. I found the Frontier one at Whole Foods. Will be on the lookout for Simply Organic again.
Smaug May 17, 2020
Well that's pretty conservative; seems (for this dish) a little odd with turmeric and without cumin; you could get salt, onion and garlic elsewhere; one of the reasons I don't like to use blends, I'd much rather use fresh alliums and control the amount of salt I use, as well as the freshness and proportion of other ingredients. Any thoughts on the Goya brand? I'm kind of stuck on the "Latin spices"
Smaug May 15, 2020
Could you be more specific as to what you mean by "adobo"? It covers rather a wide variety of sauces and marinades in Latin America- they all seem to contain vinegar, but otherwise...- and means something else in the Phillipines. Spanish chorizo likewise is a pretty broad category.
Taryn P. May 15, 2020
Hi! Thanks for your question. We use dry all-purpose adobo seasoning (my dad always uses Goya's all-purpose with pepper, it's in a shaker bottle with a red top and says Adobo on it). As for the chorizo, any dried, naturally-smoked chorizo will do, but we usually use Goya's; it comes in a small vacuum-sealed package with four links inside. Good luck!
Smaug May 15, 2020
Okay, thanks. The Goya website admits to garlic (presumably dried), oregano, black pepper and "latin spices" in their spice mix; possibly American chili powder would work. They don't give any real information on the chorizo other than "traditional" spices. Unfortunately, Goya products are little known in my neck of the woods (West Coast), guess I'll have to let this one go.
mstv May 16, 2020
I also live on the Wesy Coast and can find Goya products in any Latin market. Might want to check it out.
Smaug May 16, 2020
ps- looked up a few other recipes-0 as far as spices, the common elements seem to be cumin, oregano and bay leaf- most use fresh garlic- a little surprised that no peppers were included other than green bells. Some had bacon, there was a vegetarian version from the NY Times. I must say that (other than the dried garlic) your father's version seems the most interesting of those I saw.

Smaug May 16, 2020
mstv Unfortunately, I don't get around a lot any more and there's no such market in my reach. I think you can mail order from Goya, but that tends to be awfully pricey. You can get the "adobo" spice on Amazon (in several versions, also something called a "sofrito"" mix, with tomato) but again pricey. Very good Spanish chorizo can be had at the Spanish Table, but whether it resembles the Goya version I couldn't say
Lynn D. May 16, 2020
I live on the West Coast too and have no trouble finding Goya products, Safeway, Kroger, Fred Meyer, or go into a little Mexican Grocery
Smaug May 17, 2020
Lynn D.- you must be in a different area- SoCal maybe? My Safeway doesn't carry them, never seen a Kroger, never heard of Fred Meyer. I do wish I had a Mexican grocery in reach.
pepina June 4, 2020
Hi, could you give any specifications of how much chorizo to use approximately? I know, two pieces but chorizos come in many different sizes where I live (in Europe). So some kind of weight indication (grams, ounces whatever) would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!