Monday, June 16, 2014

Black Rice Wraps

Never heard of black rice? It's okay; I hadn't either. And then a few weeks ago, there I was at our co-op picking up my raw milk, like a properly crunchy mother. And there in the bulk bins was black rice. It was beautiful, like little slivers of onyx. Which may not have quite been enough to win my heart except that my picky picky son who loves rice wanted to buy some. So we did. Just a little to test it out.

I had no idea what to do with it. Did I cook it like normal rice? Were there dishes people made with such a food? Turns out that black rice is actually crazy healthy. It's a whole grain rice with all the anti-oxidants associated with purple foods (think blueberries and acai berries). In ancient China the nobles did what nobles do and they took it all and forbade the peasants to have any at all. Thus, it is often called "forbidden rice." Which, I don't know, just makes it seem even more cool, doesn't it (not the whole repression of peasants thing, but the title--"forbidden rice")?

For our first foray into Forbidden Rice, we made...wait for it...rice. That's right--I wanted to see how it would taste when we just made it, well, like normal. And guys--it was really good. I mean, I don't want to amp it up too much and make you think it will taste like chocolate. It is still rice and all, but it was very very tasty rice. It had a more complex flavor with more depth and nuttiness--I would almost say sweetness (you'll be seeing a black rice pudding on here soon). So it had the whole grain goodness of brown rice with the semi-sweetness of white rice. And then it had something else--something complex and nutty. Also, it's a very very dark purple when cooked. Seriously, I loved it.

Maybe that's unfortunate because for rice (motto: cheapest food on earth), it is expensive. Not quite organic raw nut expensive, but definitely much more expensive than we normally pay for our grains. Ours rang up at a little over $4/pound. Also, you will probably not find it in a normal grocery store. You'll likely find it in a health foods store or perhaps an Asian market. It is the hope of my heart that it gains popularity in the U.S. and becomes a bit more accessible and less expensive (less "forbidden" if you will--ha ha, why am I too funny). For now, I will enjoy it for what it is--which is not a cheap side dish, but a wholesome and delicious main course. Or--as is sort of the case in today's dish--a delightful and complex component of your next burrito. 

People often use black beans in burritos. I like black beans okay and they're good for you, but my family won't touch a black bean so they usually get left out. But this. This was better than black beans and without the texture of black beans (which is what my family dislikes). Yet it added the color and a pleasant textural contrast to the wrap. It was just good. And simple. And the family didn't hate it. And you don't need a ton so nobody has to break the bank.

Here's how we made them.

Black Rice Wraps

You'll need:

Ground beef
Pork and beans
Cheese (sharp cheddar is my favorite, but knock yourselves out with whatever)
cream cheese
black rice
corn, cooked/warmed

Step 1: Cook your black rice. It's like cooking brown rice.
-Add 1 C rice to a pot with 2-2 1/2 C water.
-Bring to a boil.
-Reduce to simmer.
-Cook for 40-45 minutes or until very tender.
-Note: If you'd like to reduce your cooking time, you can soak your rice for 1-8 hours. Then your rice needs a bit less water and only takes about 25 minutes to cook. Of course, then you have to have several hours of foresight, but it is my understanding that there are people like this in the world. As for me, I think these wraps are just the perfect way to use up leftover rice. Then you've got a 15-minute meal and you don't waste you $4/lb rice. Win win. 

Step 2: I made a batch of cheap ground beef by using my favorite beef cheapening technique: I combined ground beef and a can of pork and beans (yeah, you heard me). Even for chief bean hater among us (that'd be my husband), this is a hit. The pork and beans adds a bit of a sauce and a bit of something barbeque-y to the beef, which he loves. The ratio is 1 pound ground beef to one can of beans.

Step 3: Warm your tortilla (if you wish).

Step 4: Layer tortilla with beef/bean mixture, then a scoop of cooked rice, then cheese, corn, salsa, and sour cream.

Step 5: Wrap it up. Told you it was good.

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