Main Dishes Recipes — By Ben on 30 June 2008
Cuban rhythm

With everything that happpened this month I thought I wasn’t going to have enough time to make it to Elly’s food event Eat to the Beat. This is one event that I was looking forward to participating and I would’ve been really upset if I missed it again. Why? Because I love music and I always try to have something playing in the background when I cook. I have a very wide taste in music (from classical to heavy metal and almost anything in between), but my favorite kind of music to listen to while cooking is salsa music. I can’t dance (and I am too shy to do it in public), but when I am alone in my kitchen I can’t stop moving my feet (or at least trying) to the music of one of the most amazing singers this world has ever seen: Celia Cruz, the Queen of salsa.

Celia Cruz (1925-2003) was the most successful Cuban singer with twenty-three gold albums to her name. She started her career in La Havana, Cuba when she was only a teenager. In 1948 she made her first recordings in Venezuela and in 1950 she joined the renowned Cuban orchestra La Sonora Matancera as the lead singer. They toured all over Latin America in the 50’s gaining fans and fame.

When in 1960 Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, Celia Cruz refused to go back to her country and became a U.S. citizen. She spent most of her career in New Jersey and working in the U.S. and several Latin American countries. Celia Cruz became known for her trademark shout Azúcar! (Sugar in Spanish) that she used to greet her audiences. Cruz reflected in many of her songs her desire to go back to a free and sovereign Cuba.

Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to see a Cuba free from the Castro regime. The song that you are listening to (Yo viviré) is a cover of the famous Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive. This is my favorite Cruz’s song because her lyrics reflect that burning desire for freedom that we all have. Yo viviré y sobreviviré.

To accompany the Queen’s scratchy voice and contagious rhythm I decided to make a Cuban dish that I had book marked some months ago, arroz moro (white rice with Cuban black beans) To make it a dinner dish I just added some browned pork shoulder right after stirring all the ingredients in the pot. Here is the recipe as it is posted on

Arroz Moro (white rice with Cuban black beans)
recipe courtesy of Andy Natal from Torrance, California

1 can of black beans
2-3 cups of already cooked white rice
1/3 cup of sofrito casero (Blend onion, bell pepper, garlic and cilantro til puree)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of oregano and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 cup of beer or broth
1/2 can tomato sauce

In a pot, add olive oil and sautee garlic and sofrito for a minute. Add salt, pepper, cumin and oregano to sofrito and mix. Add beans and mix well. Add tomato sauce and beer or broth and mix.

After 5 minutes, add apple cider vinegar and stir. Add 2-3 cups of already cooked white rice (at room temperature) and mix well. Cook until all is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).

Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Buen Provecho y Azúcar!

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(12) Readers Comments

  1. Ben, i could live on rice and beans! These look fantastic! Great event, too.

  2. Haha love the dialogue “I love salsa but can’t dance” haha me to I can’t dance for “sh@t I am rythmetically challenged but I don’t care if I’m somewhere I’ll let loose and make a fool of myself lol, just have fun and go with the music.

    I love a lot of Celia Cruz’s music, my favoriet is “Cuba Que Lindo Son Tus Paisajes” feauturing Willy Chrino and her “Quimbara” and “La Vida Es Un Carnaval”

    Hehe well let me show you a more “traditional authentic” home-style way we make Moros, it’s not suppose to be “Asopao” and we steam the raw rice with the black beans in “black bean broth” until the rice cooks, no beer or anything like that. Here is my pictorial with a link to “Congri” (the preffered version of Eastern Cubans or Oriente provinces):


    Congri Oriental

    Congri de Coco (my grandmothers NON-traditional NON authentic version)

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