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Jamaican Rice & Peas

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Serves eight to ten.

This is really a rice and beans dish, but in Jamaica, beans are called peas. Mark Henry, the banquet chef at the Pooks Hill Marriott in Bethesda, Maryland, serves this aromatic dish to accompany his Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, crushed with a mallet or the side of a knife
  • 10 whole allspice berries
  • 5 oz. (3/4 cup) dried red kidney beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 can (about 14 oz.) coconut milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 scallion, root trimmed
  • 2 cups raw long-grain rice
  • 1 fresh Scotch bonnet chile or habanero

Tie the garlic, ginger, and allspice berries in a small cheescloth pouch. In a 3-qt.ovenproof pot, combine the beans, coconut milk, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the beans are soft, 1-1/4 to 2 hours. If necessary, add more water during cooking to keep the beans covered.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and scallion to the beans. Add the rice and enough water to cover the rice by about 1 inch (about 2 cups). Bring to a boil and add the whole chile; don't break, crack, or cut the chile.

Cover and bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the chile, thyme sprigs, scallion, and ginger-garlic pouch before serving.

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