Mexican Brown Rice & Beans with Squash and Chorizo

Beans, Rice, Chorizo & Squash

This meal is awesome! So flavourful – a little bit spicy, or a lot if you prefer. But it’s not just spicy – I love the beans in this recipe, prepared like I would a soup stock, with garlic, onion and other ingredients to make them irresistible. The rice, as well, has onion, garlic, hot peppers and flame-roasted tomatoes to boost the flavour. And the Mexican chorizo and cotija cheese add some salty goodness. Add a salsa of your choice, and you’ve got a feast!

I’m not going to lie to you – there are a lot of steps here. Each of the parts of the recipe can be made to use in other meals; the beans and rice would be great on their own, and the rice, squash and chorizo would be great together. On another occasion I made the beans and rice with a beautiful pulled beef dish (recipe to come…). Use a vegetable broth and omit the chorizo for a vegetarian meal.

The beans can be made ahead of time and reheated; they take the longest amount of time. The timeline looks like this:

  • soak the beans the night before
  • make the beans ahead of time OR give them 1 & 1/2 hours or more to cook
  • bake the rice
  • if you are making your own salsa, do that (salsa fresca, salsa verde asado)
  • roast the squash
  • prepare the Mexican sausage
  • put it all together and top with Mexican cotija cheese, Mexican sausage, cilantro, and a wedge of lime

I cobbled this recipe together from a variety of sites, making a bunch of changes that are too numerous to list. The butternut squash is taken from a taco recipe, the beans are adapted from a Saveur recipe, and the rice is a combination of a Rick Bayless recipe and a  Whole Foods recipe.

What you need for the beans:

  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • about 8 cups chicken stock, or water and chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 whole jalapeño
  • 12 small sweet onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you need for the rice:

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced
  • 1 & 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon dried ancho pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water (with chicken boullion added)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

What you need for the squash:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 dried ancho pepper, snipped into small pieces with kitchen shears
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/5 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

What you need for the Mexican Sausage:

  • 2-3 cured Mexican sausages (in Vancouver Armando’s Meats at Granville Island has excellent sausages)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • olive oil

Other things you need:

  • Mexican cotija cheese (salty and crumbly – yum!)
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • salsa of your choice (homemade or store-bought)
  • your favourite hot sauce that people can add as they see fit – some of us like it hot!

What you do for the beans:

  1. Soak the beans in a large pot of water the night before you plan to cook them.
  2. Drain the beans and add the 8 cups of chicken broth or water and chicken bouillon. Add the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, jalapeño and a bit of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Add a little boiling water if they start looking too dry.
  3. At this point I decided to cook off a lot of the liquid by raising the heat and stirring. This way I kept a ton of flavour in the beans. Alternatively, you could drain the liquid and reserve it for making soup.
  4. Discard the vegetable pieces and bay leaves.

What you do for the rice:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Use an oven-proof pot with a lid or a dutch oven for the rice. Add the olive oil to the pot on medium-high. When it is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  3.  Add the jalapeño pepper, rice, and the whole dried ancho pepper. Stir to combine, then add the tomatoes, broth or water and chicken bouillon, and the salt. Bring to a boil then cover with a lid and bake for one hour.
  4. Remove the rice from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, or until the rest of the meal is prepared.
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork and cover until ready to serve.

What you do for the squash:

  1. While the rice is cooking, begin to prepare the squash. Turn the oven heat to 400F when the rice is done; if you have room in the oven you could cook the squash with the rice, letting it bake a little longer than suggested here.
  2. Peel and dice the squash. Place it in a large bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil, then add the garlic, ancho pepper, oregano, salt, and cumin seeds. Toss to combine.
  3. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it begins to get a little browned.

What you do for the sausage:

  1. Heat a frying pan to medium-high and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onion and fry until it begins to brown. In the meantime, crumble the sausage into small bite-sized pieces.
  2. Add the sausage to the onions and cook until lightly browned. Keep hot until serving.

You can either serve family style, letting everyone put their plates together as they wish, or dish it up: rice and beans side by side, some squash and chorizo on top, sprinkled with a little cheese. Top with cilantro and place a wedge of lime on it for people to squeeze over the whole thing. Serve the salsa on the side, so people can add as much as they wish.

Enjoy!

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