Any special occasion meal in Puerto Rico would not be complete without arroz con gandules or rice with pigeon peas.
After all, rice with pigeon peas is one of Puerto Rico's national dishes. This recipe is seasoned with sofrito and diced ham.
Pigeon peas are legumes that have a nutty flavor and are frequently paired with rice and other grains. They can be found dried, canned or ground for flour. This recipe calls for canned pigeon peas that can be found in most large grocery stores or specialty Indian and Latin shops.
Arroz con gandules can be served alone or with a variety of sides like pollo guisado (chicken stew), tostones, and a light salad.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup sofrito (see All About Sofrito below)
- 1/2 cup chopped ham (or cooked pork pieces)
- 2 cups rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 packet sazón
- 1 (15-ounce) can pigeon peas/gandules (drained and rinsed)
- Heat olive oil in a 6-quart pot. Sauté the sofrito and chopped ham for 1 minute.
- Add the rice, water, sazón, and gandules.
- Bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Do not use a lid with a vent that allows the steam to escape and never lift the lid while cooking.
- When finished cooking, stir the rice before serving. It should be light and fluffy.
All About Sofrito
A sofrito is a blend of herbs and spices used to season countless dishes, such as stews, beans, rice and occasionally meat.
Sofritos exist in Latin Caribbean and other Latin American countries and comes from the Spanish word which means "to fry something."
Spanish sofrito uses tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, paprika and olive oil. Caribbean versions range from green to orange to bright red and vary in heat from mild to pungent to spicy.
In the Dominican Republic, sofrito is called sazón and is made with vinegar and annatto for color. In Puerto Rico, sofrito is called recaito and it includes the herb culantro and ajies dulces (sweet chili peppers).
In Cuba, sofrito is made with tomatoes, red bell peppers, and ham. In the Yucatan area of Mexico, sofritos are extra-spicy with the addition of habaneros.
Sofritos can be added at the start of cooking but in other recipes, it isn’t added until the end of the cooking. And in yet other recipes, it's used as a topping sauce for grilled meats and fish.