I have always been intrigued by papaya, but never actually bought one. I mean, they lounge around the grocery stores like odd alien rock stars that you can’t really can’t help but notice. It looks like a bewitching space fruit that an unlucky red-shirted Star Trek ensign would eat in careless curiosity. Yet, I’ve always wanted an excuse to get one, and thanks to Betty, here we are!
There are dozens of ways to make beans and rice in the Caribbean, and it’s a become a classic dish. Now, some will say that rice isn’t native to the Caribbean, and that it was brought over with Chinese workers once slavery was abolished, so it should be considered more of a Caribbean hybrid. I’m not Caribbean, and so it’s not my place to say what should and shouldn’t be included in this culture. But I can say that one of the things I find the most beautiful about Caribbean culture is that it combines African, Portuguese, Spanish and Native American Island cultures in a really beautiful way. Why draw a line and exclude Chinese imports? That’s one of the beautiful things about food–you can travel the world and share your home at the same time through food. It’s kinda magical really. I guess if you look at it like that you can see why those doomed Star Fleet Ensigns are always throwing caution to the wind.
I’m hoping this take on Betty’s recipe does this classic dish justice. We added a lot, but I think the cilantro really brightens up the black beans and the jerk flavoring adds a unique warmth and spice. Not to mention this an excuse to experiment with papaya.
Caribbean Black Beans and Rice
2 Cans Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Papaya (peeled, seeded and diced into bite sized pieces)
1/2 Large Mango (peeled, pitted and diced into bite sized pieces)
1 Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
3 Shallots (chopped)
3/4 Cup Frozen Corn
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
1/4 teaspoon Agave Nectar
2 1/2 teaspoons Jerk Seasoning
2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
Dash of Liquid Smoke
3 Tablespoons Cilantro (diced)
3 Cups Brown Rice (cooked)
Hot Sauce to taste (optional)
In your faithful cast iron skillet, heat Olive Oil on a medium heat. Once your Oil is warm, add Jerk Flavoring and Liquid Smoke and mix. Then add remaining ingredients except Cilantro and Brown Rice. Continue to stir and heat until the Red Pepper is tender. Ours took about 5 minutes. Be careful not to mash your fruit.
You can either serve over rice or mixed in. Sprinkle a little Cilantro and Hot Sauce over the top of each bowl and Don’t forget an icy ginger brews on the side.