About 14 years ago my Mom took me scuba diving in Belize. The national dish there- as I remember it- is rice and beans cooked in coconut milk, garnished with onions and habañero peppers pickled in vinegar. It’s a great combination; the rice and beans are rich, creamy, and thick, and the pickles are crunchy, sharp, and fiercely hot. Since we still have an excess of habañeros, I made 2 quarts of the hot onion pickle today with our red onions (as well as a whole mess of basil-nasturtium-sorrel pesto for the freezer, but that’s another post.)
For the “rice” I took a cup of the local 10-grain mixture we love so well and put it into my new pressure cooker with a can of coconut milk, soaked kidney beans, herbs, spices, a little lemon juice, and a few chopped cloves of garlic. After about 20 minutes it was a lovely thick porridge studded with plump beans and perfumed with the garlic and powders (chile, cumin, paprika, plus mustard seeds.) I salted it and it was done. A grope of neon onions on top and a little chervil completed the ultimate post-tropical peasant dish; the grains are so nutty and creamy and wonderful, and the crunchy onions have that long, beautiful fruity habañero afterburn. To quench the heat, a lovely 2005 Trimbach Gewürztraminer that rained peaches and lychees onto the bright pink-and-orange fire, and whet the ferrous edge of the blood-red beans.