Say hola to a sweet and savory Cuban flavor explosion.

For the last I don’t even know how long, I had been dying to go to Cuba. Last year, I had the privilege of finally checking it off my bucket list and it did not disappoint. When I travel, I crave distinct and vibrant cultures, lots of color, interesting architecture and great food. Let me tell you, Cuba exceeded each and every one of these expectations. Cuban cities are as colorful as the culture, and I ate up every minute of it.

One of the most memorable moments was this incredibly yummy restaurant in the tiny town of Moron (Ciego de Ávila, Cayo Coco) called El Angel. Shockingly enough, this was my first experience having moros y christianos. They served it with a side of the sweetest fried bananas I’ve ever had. O-M-G! Could someone please tell me how I have never thought of combining savory black beans and fried bananas? Honestly, mind blowing. That moment of flavor discovery is the inspiration for this dish.

Side note, I may or may not have an overwhelming obsession with every single door and window in Caya Coco. The details on this gigantic wood door are swoon worthy. Also, why can’t all buildings be splashed with turquoise and bright peach? These are life’s great questions. Ok, back to the food…

Now I won’t lie to y’all, this recipe is not a quick one. It’s a step by step process but is well worth the wait. Oh and um, did I mention it includes bananas fried in coconut oil (hello, drool)? If anything, make a bunch of them from the get-go and munch as you go along.

I’ve made this dish a wee bit longer by using brown rice but if you’re not up for it, cut your cook time by using white rice.

Can we please take a moment and appreciate the fact that my turquoise surface matches the turquoise Cuban buildings? #stillobsessed

The chicken is in a simple marinade made with garlic, jalapeños, lime & orange juice, soy sauce, cumin and honey. It’s called some major tang in yo’ face and it’s an insane combination with the spicy, coconut-y rice and sauteéd black beans.

Sprinkle your dish with some chopped up cilantro (which is pretty much my solution for everything in life because it works EVERY TIME). I just about can’t handle the gigantic flavor smack to the face.

Now because I’m a psycho, neither the chopped up jalapeños cooked in this dish, nor the freshly chopped ones on the side are quite enough to meet my level of spice expectation. Do I have a problem? It’s highly probable…

Soooooo I doused my rice bowl with some Valentina’s hot sauce, which also happens to be one of my solutions to everything in life. If you too have fire retardant taste buds, I seriously recommend doing the same. Can you say YUM?!

Happy cooking y’all!


Cuban Rice Bowl with Fried Bananas and Black Beans

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 5 large bowls

Cuban Rice Bowl with Fried Bananas and Black Beans

Ingredients

    Chicken Ingredients:
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • Black Beans and Rice Ingredients:
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup white or brown rice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 1/2 cups water + 3/4 cup water
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Banana Ingredients:
  • 2 bananas, sliced thick
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together the chicken marinade in a bowl and add chicken. Leave for 20 minute to overnight.
  2. Make the rice. Add a large frying pan to medium heat on the stove. Add the vegetable oil and then onions to the pan. Once slightly caramelized (about 20 minutes) add the red pepper and jalapeño. After mixing, sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the rice to the pan, mix and cook until just browned. Add 1 1/2 cups water, broken up bouillon cube, coconut milk, lime juice and stir. Sprinkle the cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Cover with a small opening. If you’re using brown rice, cook on low for 1 hour. Check periodically and add additional water, then stir if the dish is looking a bit dry.
  4. Remove chicken from the marinade. Set oven to 350ºF. Cook in a small pan over medium heat for about 7 minutes on each side or until slightly browned. Add the chicken and about half of the marinade to a large piece of foil. Wrap up the chicken in the foil and place on a baking sheet in the oven until fully cooked.
  5. While the rice and chicken are cooking, sauté the bananas in the coconut oil on medium-low heat. As the bananas begin to sizzle, sprinkle with brown sugar, pepper and salt and flip. Set aside.
  6. Add 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil to the same banana pan. Add the black beans and sauté until slightly charred. Sprinkle with cilantro, salt and pepper and stir. Cook for a few more minutes and remove.
  7. Assemble black beans, bananas, rice and chicken in a large bowl and serve with fresh jalapeños and cilantro.
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