almost gallo pinto

Ok, so let me just start off by saying I know this is not real traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto.

Gallo pinto is literally "painted chicken" even though there is usually no chicken in this dish - a simple mixture of rice and black beans that may as well be the country's national dish!

This is a very close second for flavor, and I'm pretty sure that it will take you back to Costa Rica in your heart...  at least it did for me (I lived in San Jose for a few months many years ago!) and for Navy (his grandparents live there and he just got back from a visit!)!

This recipe was born out of desperation and necessity.  My beautiful, sweet, allergic-to-dairy niece is here spending the weekend with us.  And since we pretty much live on dairy in this family and I didn't plan ahead, I was stumped for a bit.

So, I started scouring the pantry to see what was hiding in there (since I knew there was no way I was going to be able to get the kids out of the pool on this beautiful day to go with me to the store!).

I saw all of my bottles of Salsa Lizano in my cupboard (a traditional Costa Rican sauce that is the main flavor of Gallo Pinto - and only available online or in latin markets!) and immediately had a craving.

Salso Lizano is a wonderful veggie-rich sauce that is hard to describe.  If you can't get your hands on any, you can substitute worcestershire sauce.  It won't be the same, but that's about as close as you'll get!

I couldn't find any black beans in my pantry, but had some garbanzos...  so those would have to do.  I also didn't have any red bell peppers, but I didn't miss them in the final dish, other than for the pop of color!

Other than that, dinner came together quickly and tasted even better than I'd hoped!

I added a can of chicken because this was our whole meal and I wanted a bit more protein in there.  You could easily use a cooked chicken breast instead, or leave it out and serve this with fried or scrambled eggs!

(Gallo Pinto is often served for breakfast in Costa Rica...  using last night's leftover rice and beans!)

Almost Gallo Pinto Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 (10.5 oz) can chicken or 1 or 2 cooked chicken breasts, diced
1 (15.5 oz) can beans (black, garbanzo, whatever...), drained
3 cups cooked rice, cooled
salt & pepper
1/3 cup Salsa Lizano (or worcestershire sauce if necessary)
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro (or freeze-dried!)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Stir in the onions and cook until translucent.  Stir in the chicken and beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Dump in the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.  Stir in the Salsa Lizano until well mixed, tasting and adding more if desired.  

Season with salt & pepper, to taste, and toss with cilantro just before serving.

Next time I have all the ingredients, I will post the more traditional Gallo Pinto recipe for you all!

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