Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

arroz con gandules
Whether on the island or in the US, Puerto Rican holiday tables will usually feature this popular rice dish: arroz con gandules.

This easy and savory rice dish is made with a base of smoked ham (or bacon), homemade sofrito, and a generous sprinkling of Latin spices.

The golden yellow color comes from achiote seeds--these can be easily found online or at most Latin grocery stores. Pigeon peas are also easily found with other Latin or Caribbean canned beans (Goya is a popular brand).

I like serving this with a sprinkle of spicy, vinegary hot sauce on top (something like Tabasco works really well!)

P.S. Want more Puerto Rican Christmas recipes? Check out my eCookbook: The Puerto Rican Christmas Table with 40+ recipes and full-color photos. Click here to learn more!

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Arroz Con Gandules
Serves 4-6 people as a side dish

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sofrito (recipe follows)
1/2 cup diced cooked ham, chorizo, or diced bacon
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground achiote (a color booster with slight flavor, can be found in the latin grocery aisle or hispanic neighborhood market, optional)
1 15-oz can gandules (pigeon peas--most common brand is Goya or Jibarito, ideally the brown "dried" version although the green will do)

For the sofrito
1 medium yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup crushed or pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro with stems
1 cup roughly chopped parsley with stems


To make:
First, prepare the sofrito: in a food processor, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, tomatoes, cumin, cilantro, and parsley, and process until smooth. (Note: The leftover condiment can be used as a base for stews, to marinate meat, for Spanish rice, or to saute with egg scrambles.)

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Saute 1/2 cup of the sofrito and ham or bacon for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, water, spices, and gandules. Bring to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.

Cover, lower the heat to medium-low and let cook for 35-40 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the rice is cooking or the rice will come out too soggy.

When finished cooking, uncover and stir once before serving.

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