Cheap Eats: Welcome to the Austerity Kitchen
UPDATED BELOW WITH EXCELLENT INPUT FROM MsExPat:
While we wait for the economic recovery to materialize (should be here any day now, right?), we still have to eat. So here, courtesy of my Jamaican neighbor, is a very simple recipe for what's known there as "peas and rice." It's cheap, keeps really well, and you can stockpile most of the ingredients in the disaster preparedness kit, which, I hope, we all have.
A Jamaican cook would use pigeon peas, which should be available in the frozen food section of an ethnic market. If those aren't available, red kidney beans are good substitutes. The beans are cooked with rice and seasonings in coconut milk with a whole Scotch bonnet chile pepper. If Scotch bonnet peppers aren't available, use a habanero, the fiery orange things shown above. Apparently, the word "hot" doesn't quite do either of these peppers justice. Experts recommend cutting them only while wearing plastic gloves and being careful not to touch your face, etc. until you've removed the gloves and washed your hands. Fortunately, cooking the pepper whole (and removing it before serving) imparts a slight peppery flavor to food, without the blistering heat.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
1/2 lb medium-sized red kidney beans or pigeon peas
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup of white rice
one small onion, chopped
one clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground Jamaican allspice
1 tablespoon oil
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, whole
Boil red kidney beans or peas in water until tender. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Return beans/peas to pot, add onions, garlic, thyme, Scotch bonnet or habanero and oil, plus the coconut milk and enough water to make a total of three cups of liquid. Bring to a boil, add rice and stir for one minute. Reduce heat to Med-Low, cover tightly for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove pepper before serving.
Makes about four servings, but it's easy to double the ingredients and the leftovers taste even better the next day!