Gallo Pinto – The Nacional Breakfast of Costa Rica
By Rob Goodell
In Costa Rica, you eat a lot of rice and beans. People ask me a lot if I ever get sick of eating rice and beans. Whenever I do, I just
eat beans and rice. If that doesn’t work, I make Gallo Pinto! Gallo Pinto translates to “Spotted Rooster” due to its medley of colors.
Gallo Pinto is a delicious breakfast mainstay of the Costa Rican diet that was most likely derived from leftover beans and rice from the night before. Did you know that the Nicoya Peninsula in the Guanacaste province is a Blue Zone? A Blue Zone is a region of the world where people live much longer than average. On a semi-recent episode on the TODAY show, Maria Shriver visited Nicoya to interview a hundred year old man that still rides his horse every day and lives an active, productive lifestyle. So, she watched him for a couple days. And boy did he watch her. Frisky old fella. Anyway, she saw what he has been eating for breakfast for roughly the last ten decades. A cup of coffee, one fried egg, a corn tortilla (great source of niacin) and Gallo Pinto!
Let me tell you a quick, easy, delicious way that I make Gallo Pinto. First of all, you need some leftover rice and beans from the night before. Other ingredients are onions, garlic, sweet bell pepper, cilantro, some cooking oil, a little chicken broth (you can use water but broth is better) and of course salt and pepper. Lizano sauce would be great but if you can’t find anywhere you live, don’t sweat it!
OK, so have all your ingredients handy and start your pan on medium heat. You will know it’s ready when you splash a little water on it and the water disappears almost immediately. Add a couple tablespoons of oil to the pan and some finely diced onions and bell peppers. Once the onions start going clear, add the garlic. Quickly add the cold rice and mix it around for a few minutes then add about half of the amount of the whole black beans with a little bit of the bean juice and Lizano sauce (if you have it). Mix that around for a couple minutes and let it do its thing. Then add about a half cup of chicken broth and let it simmer down. This will bring all those yummy aromas and flavors together but keep in mind, you don’t want it swimming in broth. Add a good amount of cilantro, then salt and pepper to taste.
Gallo Pinto is best served with a fried egg, corn tortilla and bacon if you want but it’s just fine on its own. A traditional Costa Rican breakfast table will have a fresh baguette with a bucket of sour creme to add to everything. Sounds weird but you have to trust me, it’s good!
If your gallo Pinto doesn’t look like the pictures it’s OK. Like belly buttons, everyone’s is a little different. Don’t be afraid to give it your own little twist. Buen provecho!
2 cups of cooked white short grain rice
1 cups of cooked red beans
1/2 cups of Salsa Lizano
1/3 a red pepper
1/3 an onion
1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chicken broth