The Washington Post

Cuban Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)

Cuban Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos) 8.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 9, 2019

Using the bean cooking liquid to cook the rice creates an inky hue and earthy flavor that is the perfect foil to the brighter flavors imparted by the vinegar and oregano. Sauteed bacon doesn't hurt either.

Chef and cookbook author Maricel Presilla says the dish is typically served as a side, but we've been more than happy to eat a bowl for a satisfying main course.

If you don't want to cook dried beans, use one 15-ounce can of beans, reserving its liquid to use when you cook the rice. You will have to add water to the liquid from the can to get the necessary 4 cups for cooking the rice. If you don't have sherry vinegar, you can substitute distilled white vinegar, although the flavor won't be quite the same. Equal amounts of distilled vinegar and dry sherry will work, too.

The cilantro and lime are not traditionally Cuban, so they're an optional garnish.

Click here to see step-by-step photos for this recipe.

Make Ahead: The beans can be cooked up to 2 days in advance. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and refrigerate beans and liquid separately.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings

  • For the beans
  • 8 ounces (1 1/4 cups) dried black beans, rinsed and picked over to remove debris
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (seeds and ribs discarded), halved
  • 1 cubanelle pepper (whole)
  • For the dish
  • About 13 ounces (2 cups) long-grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces slab or thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (seeds and ribs discarded), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or more as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (may substitute white distilled vinegar), or more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or more as needed
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)


Place the beans in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot along with the water, onion, green bell pepper and cubanelle pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours, maintaining gentle bubbling, until the beans are tender yet still retain their shape (test the beans for doneness; the range in time depends somewhat on how fresh the beans are). Drain, reserving 4 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the flavoring vegetables; the yield of beans is 2 cups.

Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Drain well.

Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, until golden. Add the onion, green bell pepper, cumin, oregano and bay leaf; cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened.

Add the rice and stir to coat thoroughly. Add the beans and their reserved cooking liquid, the sherry vinegar and salt. Stir well, then taste for seasoning; add a dash more vinegar, cumin, oregano and/or salt, as needed. The liquid should be flavorful. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and small holes have formed on the surface of the rice. Fluff the rice with a fork, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat, uncover and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Discard the bay leaf.

Top each portion with cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Gran Cocina Latina," by Maricel Presilla (W.W. Norton, 2012).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Avg. Rating (11)

Rate this recipe

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 360

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 9g 14%

Saturated Fat: 3g 15%

Cholesterol: 10mg 3%

Sodium: 690mg 29%

Total Carbohydrates: 57g 19%

Dietary Fiber: 8g 32%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 11g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle