Spanish Rice and Beans

6 chicken thighs
1 lg. can tomato sauce
I small onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic crushed
1 green pepper chopped
I small jar of olives stuffed with pimentos
2 cups long grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbs. Smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1 small onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
2 cans red kidney beans

In a Dutch oven on medium high heat, put a couple of tbs. of olive oil. I doubt Grandmama had olive oil. She probably used a tablespoon of lard.
Lard would definitely be better than olive oil.
Add chopped onion and pepper. Sauté until both begin to soften. Move to the side.
Add chicken thighs, skin side down. Brown and turn. I don’t think she ever browned the chicken. I remember her just dropping everything into the pot, giving it a stir, covering the pot and letting it cook. I’m not sure my way is any better.
Add crushed garlic, the large can of tomato sauce and 2 cups of stock, along with two cups of rice. Rice was always a staple at every meal. My mother was from the south. We ate a lot of rice and gravy at her table.
Add paprika, salt and pepper. I never measure these. Grandmama never measured either, but it always came out just right. Mine does, too. Usually.
Drain olives and add to the pot. Olives seem a weird fit, just like I always felt like a weird fit growing up in SW Missouri. My exotic last name, broad nose, full lips, dark curly hair, didn’t fit into the look of the Ozarks. I never learned to speak Spanish. My parents made the decision to not make my sister and I stick out any more than we did, even though it was my father’s first language and my mother taught Spanish at the local high school.

We were on a party line with ring telephones. Our ring was short-long-short. There were ten others on our line, and everyone knew everyone else’s ring. When talking to Grandmama and Grandpapa, my father could hear clicks of disappointment as curious listeners hung up their phones. No one else around spoke Spanish. Yep, we were definitely the olives of the Ozarks.
Stir everything together and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, turn down heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for around 40 minutes. Boiling and simmering. I try not to boil when I think of how easy it would have been to learn Spanish as a child, yet I did not, and never have. The blame is on me now, but the guilt has lowered to a simmer.

Life is not long enough for so much guilt. I’ve reached my limit. Grandmama never felt guilty when she cooked this recipe a little long, or on a higher fire, causing the rice to form a crusty goodness in the bottom of the pan. Sometimes a little mistake makes everything better. . until it doesn’t.

It was a mistake to move her to Missouri. Brooklyn and Bayamon were her true homes. Those places were her black beans and kidney beans, while SW Missouri was brown pinto beans at best. (Which I like, by the way.) Why would anyone try to make her live anywhere else? Not boiling and letting things just simmer is still a chore sometimes.

While the chicken and rice is cooking, prepare the beans.
Sauté the second onion, green pepper, and garlic in a saucepan.
Add two cans of red kidney beans. (Never pinto beans, but black beans may be substituted.)

Heat on low until warmed through. Serve the Spanish rice with beans on top and accompanied by your favorite hot sauce. Hers was Tabasco.

My Grandpapa liked hot peppers and wine as an appetizer before diving into his meal. I don’t remember Grandmama ever sitting with us to eat. My memories have her forever standing over the stove, continuing to stir....