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
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.