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A taste of things to come: gallo pinto

This weekend we finally made it to the Mi Tierra market at Columbia Road and Champlain Street, NW.  The outdoor street food and craft market runs year-round from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. The food is from all over Latin America: empanadas, tacos, pupusas, fruit juices, alfajores and cajetes de coco.  The vendors display their home flags (Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Argentina) and call out in Spanish and English, hoping to attract customers as they wander through the stands. The Post has an article describing the process these vendors have gone through. Many of them would struggle to get their own street vendor’s license, so local non-profits worked together to register the Mi Tierra as a farmers market.

We enjoyed some tamales de elote and a pupusa rellena. We also bought two things that inspired my third attempt at Nicaraguan cooking: tajadas and cuajada. Click here for attempts one (tostones) and two (horchata). Tajadas are very thinly sliced fried plantains.  Cuajada is dry, salty cheese curd.

To go with the fried plantains and cheese curds, I made gallo pinto (painted rooster).  Gallo pinto is a mixture of red beans and rice, often made with leftovers of each that are fried together with onion.  My trusty Nicaraguan Cookbook by Trudy Espinoza-Abrams provides a fancier version. Her recipe contains bacon, oregano, ginger, garlic, and bay leaf.  Overall the results were good, although the beans were a bit too firm.  I guess we’ll wait until we’re in Nicaragua to see how it’s really done.

Click for more photos and the recipe.

Pick through the red beans, removing any rocks or wilted looking ones.  Wash, rinse and soak the beans in warm water for two hours (I did about three). Then discard the water.

In a large pot, heat 2Tbs of oil and fry one garlic clove, a medium onion, and ¼ cup diced green pepper until translucent.  If you are using bacon, mix in about five slices of bacon, finely chopped.  When bacon is cooked softly, add the drained beans.  Mix and then add 6 cups of water, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp each of dried basil and dried oregano, about 2 Tbs chopped ginger.  Cook over medium heat until al dente.

The recipe in the book calls for 2 cups more water and directs you to first fry the rice in oil and onion, and add the rice to the bean mixture to cook for about 15 minutes. I cooked the rice separately and mixed it into the beans toward the end of the cooking time. Before serving, season with salt and pepper.

The original recipe notes that gallo pinto is usually served for breakfast or dinner, but rarely for lunch.

Nicaraguans, I mean you no offense, but I will eat my leftover gallo pinto for lunch tomorrow. Sorry.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Bridget #

    oh, yum. I’m from the DC area but never knew about this market..I wonder how old it is. Thanks for the info, and your food looked divino.

    April 19, 2010

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