It wasn’t more than a month into living in Costa Rica when my mom asked me over skype, “What’s your favorite food there?”
Having grown up with a family who essentially bases their vacations on restaurant reviews, it came as a shock that I responded with chicharrones; the popular bar food made from fried pork fat and pieces of meat. In my defense, I had been hooked by consistent visits to the bar up the street; the only restaurant withing walking distance and one famous for its vats of broiling oil and crispy, golden chunks of pork meat. On the weekends, locals flock to the place and I had joined the herd. Not being one to turn down a new “cultural” food, I soon realized that fried pork – or any meat for that matter – was elevated to a new level when served atop fresh beans, rice, and slathered with tangy chimmichurri sauce. I also realized that if I didn’t figure out a way to enjoy it without the temptations of fried plantains, cheese cubes, and cold beers, that my weekly yoga lessons wouldn’t be enough to keep me feeling good at the beach.
It turns out that this popular bar food isn’t only easy to make, but it’s cheap and delicious too. So, next time you’re craving a dose of Central America, watching a game of futbol, or just low on cash but wanting a filling, fresh meal – look no further than this Costa Rican Chifrijo Recipe.
Costa Rican Chifrijo Recipe
* Serves two
- 1/4 lb chicharrones, or any cooked meat chopped into cubes
- 2-3 cups of cooked white rice (or enough to fill up each bowl)
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups kidney beans
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 red pepper (chile dulce in costa Rica)
Pablo’s Pico de Gallo
- 1 small red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 handful of cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 limes (enough juice to cove ingredients)
Pico de Gallo
This salsa lightens up the Chifrijo and makes the broth a delicious combination of all those Latin flavors, turning rice and beans from humble staples to a delicious and filling meal. Make it first so the flavors have time to blend together or feel free to make it the day before and use extras on everything from your morning eggs or a Latin-inspired bruschetta! Finely dice the onion and garlic and squeeze lime juice to cover. Shred or chop cilantro and stir in.
Sautee diced onion, red pepper, and garlic in cooking oil and once soft and fragrant, add in cooked white rice. Cook until rice is heated through and set aside.
Warm beans and broth on stovetop and begin “construction.” Ladle a hearty portion of the beans and broth into each bowl, then add a heaping pile of the white rice and onion mixture. Top with chopped up meat, then spoon several large spoonfuls of the pico de gallo over the top. Serve with warm tortilla chips, a cold beer, and enjoy!