The server at Chicago's only Costa Rican eatery, Irazu, 1865 N. Milwaukee Ave., asked my husband and I how we'd like the rice and beans that came with our meals. The options were just a plain white rice and black beans or a mixture of both that is known as both tico rice and gallo pinto. He opted for the plain beans and rice since the latter had cilantro. I opted for the latter because it did have the cilantro. And besides the server mentioned the gallo pinto had been cooking for hours spent hours; seems like if it's been working that long I should eat it.
Common ingredients in this Costa Rican dish, in addition to black beans, rice and cilantro, include finely chopped onion, sweet pepper, and chicken broth. It appears that much of this cooking time is devoted to cooking the black beans, then adding the other ingredients.
It was a nice mild side in this casado, a typical Costa Rican dish that includes beans and rice, fried plantains, cabbage salad, and tonight sliced ribeye with carmelized onions. All of this topped with an egg, sunnyside up, for a reasonable $11.95.
No money to visit this Central American country, raved about by tourists who love its unspoiled beaches? Check out the sandwich menu. Everything's $4.95, a recession-friendly option in this economy.
As for the red and verde sauces on the table, all I can say is thank you. It opened up my sinuses as this cold settles in.