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So we went over the meat marinade for the casado last week, and today, we put everything together to actually get to the eating part. I’ll talk about individual sections and then put them all together. Altogether you will need:

your pre-marinaded meat (I used pork and it was DELICIOUS)

your frying oil of choice (I recommend canola)

onion

garlic

rice

chicken bouillon or chicken stock

black beans

optional: hot pepper

salt and pepper to taste

plantains or green bananas

butter

salad makings

Black Beans:

I had this a different way at every soda I went to. Sometimes the beans tasted like the cook just cracked open a can and warmed the beans over the stove for a minute – fine by me! Other sodas served the beans mashed and refried. This is what worked for me:

I started with dry black beans because 4 cups was like $1(!) at the farmer’s market (I think it made something like 7-8 cups, cooked). The downside to this is that it takes some foresight – you have to know that you want to cook black beans the next day because the beans need to soak overnight. The upside is that it is incredibly much cheaper.

If you start with raw beans, you will need to look through them first to make sure there are no foreign objects – rocks, twigs, etc. Then rinse the beans so that they are clean and put them in a large pot. Leave them in the pot covered with at least 3 inches of water overnight to soak.

After your beans have soaked, put away in the fridge any that you don’t want to use immediately for cooking. I made about 4 cups, which was plenty for me and Kevin and for leftovers (which you want for gallo pinto, I promise!).

In the bottom of the pot you will cook the beans in, sautee half an onion (diced) and 2-3 cloves of garlic (also diced) in a tablespoon of oil. At this step you can  also include your desired amount of hot pepper also. I used about an inch of a pepper that was marked “picante” but I didn’t get any noticeable kick, so I’d recommend more. Sautee 1-2 minutes until onion is soft. Add your desired amount of beans from 2-4 cups – if you use more than 4 cups, definitely up the onion and garlic. Stir everything up.

You want the beans to be covered in about a half an inch of their juice, so if there is more than that, you should remove some with a ladle. At this point, if you want to make sure your beans are very flavorful, add the secret ingredient: a bouillon cube. Is this cheating? Maybe, but it sure makes for tasty beans.

Simmer the beans for 50-90 minutes, or until they are soft. Stir the pot up about 5 minutes into the simmer to make sure the bouillon flavor is evenly distributed. Salt and pepper to taste before serving (it shouldn’t need much salt if you used bouillon).

Rice

Most of the rice I had in sodas was just regular, steamed, white rice – there are seemingly as many rice makers in Costa Rica as I would imagine there are in Japan. I wanted to give my rice a little pizzazz and save myself some time for my gallo pinto, so this is what I did:

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In a medium frying pan on medium heat, add 1 ½ tablespoons of oil and sautee half an onion (chopped) and 2 cloves of garlic (chopped) for a little more than a minute, until the onion is soft.

 IMG_3293Add 1 ½ cups of rice. Stir the rice to coat it with the oil and sautee a few more minutes to toast the rice slightly.

Add 2-3 cups of chicken broth (or water, if you please) until the rice is covered by at least half an inch of liquid. Cover, turn down the heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the rice has soaked up all the broth.

Salad:

Literally anything goes for this category. I just used some sliced red pepper and avocado because it’s what I had lying around. A very common salad would be shredded cabbage and sliced red onion with a light dressing – sometimes as simple as just lime juice, salt and pepper. I put this together while I was waiting on my rice to simmer.

Meat

Add about a tablespoon of frying oil to the bottom of your pan and turn the heat up to just above medium – it needs to be hot enough to get a good sear on the meat, but not to burn it while it’s cooking, so adjust depending on your stovetop. To help achieve this goal, I would recommend that your individual “steaks” not be more than about an inch thick (obviously, this is less important for beef, since you don’t necessarily need to make sure it is all the way done all the way through, but be careful with pork or chicken).

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While you’re waiting for your oil to heat, do a quick slice on half an onion. It doesn’t need to be diced – you’ll want some nice strips of onion to top off your casado meat. Once you’re done slicing them, toss them in the pan.

Remove individual steaks from the marinade and place them in the pan right on top of your onions – I did three steaks at a time.

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Depending on the thickness of your meat and how high your heat is, you will cook the steaks anywhere from 3-5 minutes per side.

Once your meat is finished cooking, you can assemble the casado on a plate. Remember, this is marriage, so don’t be afraid to let the components get all up in each other’s business. Enjoy!

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Here at the end, I have one small confession – fried plantains are supposed to be a part of this plate, but I have not mastered them yet. Part of the problem is that plantains are not as readily available here in Uruguay, so I have been experimenting with how to get a close approximation with bananas. A post on this is coming soon, but before that will be the gallo pinto, which I’m sure has you on the edge of your seat, haha. ‘Til then, Pura Vida!

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