Over forty years ago my grandparents moved from Puerto Rico to Los Angeles. Somehow over time, they made the trek north to a town called Bakersfield, and our clan has been expanding ever since. Personally, I am not a huge fan of Puerto Rican food. I’ll eat it when the mood strikes, but other than that, Puerto Rican food is not something I go out on a limb for. My sister, on the other hand, will drive 30 minutes just to get a few servings of my grandmother’s home cooking.
While I can love or leave most Puerto Rican food, my favorite Puerto Rican dish is called arroz con gandules. Arroz con gandules (or rice with pigeon peas) is Puerto Rico’s national dish, and can be guaranteed to be made every week in my house, unlike empanadillas or pasteles. Arroz con gandules is a staple at every family gathering. Interestingly enough, in my family, the women and children like the rice perfectly cooked, while the men enjoy the burnt bottom scrapings.
To me, the gandules have a slight metallic taste that is not at all overwhelming, but are what make the yellow rice dish stand out. I think it’s this slight metallic taste that causes many of the children to pick the gandules out of their rice.
Making arroz con gandules takes almost an hour, and is fairly easy to make. The recipe for 4 to 6 people is as follows:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup sofrito (see recipe below)
- 2 cups rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 packet Goya brand sazón seasoning
- 1 15-ounce can gandules (pigeon peas), drained and rinsed
In a 6-quart pot heat the olive oil.
Add the rice, water, sazón and gandules
Bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for two to three minutes.
Reducing the heat to medium-low, cover and allow to cook for 35 to 40 minutes.
DO NOT use a lid that allows the steam to escape or open the lid when cooking.
After cooking, stir the rice before serving. The rice should be light and fluffy.
Sofrito is a basic tomato puree type of mixture that is found in many Latino recipes. While there are dozens of recipes for sofrito, this recipe uses ingredients that are easy to find in any grocery store.
- 2 medium green peppers with the seeds removed
- 1 red sweet pepper with the seeds removed
- 2 large tomatoes
- 2 medium peeled onions
- 1 peeled head of garlic
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves
- ½ bunch parsley leaves
Chop and blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
I hope that your family enjoys the national dish of Puerto Rico as much as my family does!
By Contributor Blogger Adrianna Ramos