Food is my weakness. But growing up in a Puerto Rican household, my mom always cooked traditional spanish food. One of the most important parts of most of our meals consisted of Arroz con Gandules! This is also a very traditional meal during the holidays. It’s so DELICIOUS and it goes with a lot of things. Chicken, steak, asparagus, pork. Mmmm! And the leftovers, sometimes end up better than the day you cooked it! (Don’t you just love that!?)
To make Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas/Arroz con gandules you need the following ingredients:
-2 cups of medium grain rice (I use Sello Rojo, or Arroz Rico is good too)
-3 cups of water
-Half a can of salsa Goya/Goya tomato sauce
-Sazon Goya con Pimiento y Achiote/The orange packaging to the right of the picture)
-Cubito en Polvo/Powdered Chicken Bouillon
-Virgin Olive Oil
-Diced cooking ham or smalls bits of bacon
Your water to rice ratio is for every 2 cups of water you put 1 cup of rice, but because you are adding the water from the peas as well we are doing 3 cups of water for 2 cups of rice. You will also need what’s called a Caldron. (Can be seen in the cover picture). They’re what Puerto Ricans typically use to cook rice in. It’s easy and traditional! My mom has had hers for YEARS and that thing has lasted her forever! I love mine. I had a hard time getting the rice perfect without one!
So here goes:
1.) Rinse out the rice you will be using with water. You want to wash it so that it doesn’t come out sticky!!! I put the amount I’m going to use in a bowl, and run water over it and dump the water out. Pick out any little pieces that don’t belong in the rice. Set that aside when you are done.
2.) On medium heat, place 2-3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil in the caldron. After that warms up for a minute or so you can put in a small handful of the diced ham/bacon and stir it while it fries.
3.) After that cooks and hardens a bit, add half of the can of salsa goya, (continue stirring as you add) add a packet of the bouillon, and a packet of the sazon con pimiento y achiote (keep stirring, it should be sizzling). You are welcome to add olives, red pepper, diced onions or a little bit of adobo to add some flavor to your tasting.
4.) Go ahead and add the can of pigeon peas. (Yes with the water that’s in the can and everything). Wait for it to boil.
5.) You are ready to add your 3 cups of water! After you add the water, turn the heat up to high.
6.) Once the water starts boiling you are ready to add your (rinsed) rice. Add your rice evenly around the caldron. Make sure that no rice is sticking above the water. If it is add some more water. To check to see if you have too much water you can do the “spoon” test. Take a spoon and put it in the middle of the caldron. If it doesn’t stand then you need to remove a little bit of water. You can set whatever water you take out aside in a little bowl (don’t dump it out).
7.) When most of the water has boiled out/evaporated you will turn the heat to low (around 3) and turn the rice. (Be careful the caldron is hot!). To turn the rice you are basically just going to bring all the rice that is at the bottom to the top. After you turn your rice, put the lid on the caldron! Make sure it’s covered tight. If it’s not, then put aluminum foil across the caldron and put the cover on top of that. This is to help with moisture. You will keep the rice covered (no peeking at it!) and at this low heat for 10-15 minutes.
8.) When time is up you can turn the heat to “keep warm”, or off. Take the lid off and for the very last time, you will turn the rice again. Cover the rice and let it sit for like 5 minutes.
9.) Your rice is ready and good to go! When serving plates, that little bowl of nice orangey water that you set aside can be used to pour a little over the rice if a person prefers it!
Remember that practice makes perfect! Keep practicing. If it comes out too hard, chunky, or mushy and wet, remember to follow the times and the correct heat. Good luck! Don’t give up if it doesn’t come out right there first time.