Friday, January 27, 2012

Arroz Con Gandules

Growing up in New York City, I was fortunate to savor the most amazing food from all different ethnicities. Arroz con gandules or rice with pigeon peas is known as the national dish of Puerto Rico. This recipe which can be used as a main dish or a side dish, was given to me by a friend and coworker many years ago. About 20 years ago, as a matter of fact.

My friend taught me not only how to make this rice delicacy but also how to make the sofrito, which is the flavor base for this dish.

Goya offers a commercially made version of sofrito but last time I checked the ingredients included MSG. I would rather make my own. I do however, use goya brand pigeon peas

Start out by making your sofrito by placing one white onion, 5 cloves of garlic and a large handful of fresh cilantro in a powerful blender or food processor. Process until  a paste is formed.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot on medium heat. Once the oil is warm add your sofrito and cook for a few minutes. 

Next add 3 cups of vegetable stock to your pot. Drain and rinse one can of goya pigeon peas and add to pot. Bring to a boil. If your stock is unsalted add approximately one teaspoon of salt. A tsp of paprika can be added for extra color if desired.

Once your stock comes to a rolling boil, add 1 and 1/2 cups of Carolina white rice and stir once.  Do not stir again until the rice is done or you will have a sticky mess. Bring back to a low boil and cook uncovered until the fluid starts to evaporate slightly and rice and beans start to peak out at you! Lower the heat to the lowest setting possible and cover the pot. Cook for approximately ten more minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stick a fork gently into the pot and push the grains of rice away until you can see the bottom of your pot. If all the liquid is gone, your rice is done. Now you can give it a quick stir to mix in the green stuff from the cilantro. 

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