THE BLOG
06/04/2010 10:34 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Finding a Great Recipe while Lost in Harlem

The other week I had an event to go to at Fort Washington Park in Harlem, New York. It was the spring picnic for Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project. I had a driver named J.R. Crayton pick me up (in a Prius), since I wasn't sure where the park was. Well, we started talking. I started by complaining that I was hungry. He told me he was planning a barbecue to celebrate his 20th anniversary of sobriety. I shared my 10 years of sobriety story and then I started asking him what he was going to make for his barbecue. While he was explaining his recipe for beans and rice, we missed the turn the GPS was trying to tell us to take, and spent the next HOUR trying to find our way to the park. We asked everyone we could find. We called people. We recalculated the GPS about 20 times. By the time he finally dropped me off at the picnic, I had missed cocktails (well, not that I would have had one anyway) and felt slightly carsick and distressed.

BUT, I had an interesting new recipe to try. Try it I did, and it's amazing! It was totally worth getting lost in Harlem for. Now you can try it, without the stress of being late for a party. In fact, this is party portions.

J.R. recommended using smoked turkey wings, but I could only find a leg (with thigh attached). He also uses Uncle Ben's white rice; I use organic brown rice. Grown-ups will want to add some hot sauce of choice. Kids will eat it out of the bowl like cereal. The secret ingredient? Coconut milk! And no, the rice doesn't taste like coconut. J.R. says the coconut milk makes the rice tender, and it does. It makes it creamy and rich, without tasting like coconut at all. I only used half a can. With the other half, you can make a piña colada (virgin, of course). I'm still working on that recipe to share.

Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

2 smoked turkey wings (or one smoked turkey leg)
8 cups water
3 cups brown rice
½ can coconut milk
1 can red beans
Salt to taste

Directions:

1. Put the wings or leg in a giant pot with 8 cups of water, and boil then simmer until the meat falls off the bone (about 2 hours)--lid off.

2. Separate the broth from the bones and meat.

3. Add the rice and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and stir.
4. After the rice comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally (about 40 minutes for brown rice).

5. When the rice looks almost done, add back the turkey meat, the can of beans, and some salt. Stir again and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

I'm still looking for a great organic hot sauce. I can't seem to find one. Recommendations, anyone?

Related Links:

Red Beans and Rice: Look Out Popeyes! - Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
More Respect, Please, for the "Musical Fruit" - Rodale.com
Cook Simply Without BPA-Tainted Cans - Mother Nature Network

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.