Rice and Pigeon Peas
(Arroz con Gandules — Puerto Rico)
This is the national rice and bean dish of Puerto Rico.
Serves 12 as a side dish or 6 as a main dish.
ABOUT THIS RECIPE
Medium-grain rice may be difficult to find. Long-grain rice may be substituted.
For a more authentic taste, use bacon drippings instead of the olive oil.
Saffron is very expensive, so the economical choice is to use turmeric.
- 3 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed and diced
- 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, drained
- 5 cups cold water
- 1 (16 ounce) can pigeon peas, drained well
- 2 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried powdered oregano
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
- 1 vial saffron threads or 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced (for garnish)
- Heat the bacon drippings or olive oil over medium-high heat in a large caldera or Dutch oven. Sauté onions, garlic and green bell pepper, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, olives, capers (if using), oregano, parsley, basil, saffron threads or turmeric, salt and pepper; then add water and pigeon peas. Increase the heat to high. Add the rice, stir once, and bring it to a boil. Cover and boil, without stirring, until most of the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Stir the rice once from the bottom to the top; cover, and cook for approximately 20 minutes more. Test the rice for doneness. If it is not tender, add a little more water and cook it, covered, for 5 minutes more.
- Spoon the rice into a serving dish, garnish with red bell pepper, and serve at once.