Arroz con Gandules is one of Puerto Rico’s iconic rice dishes. Whether served simply with pollo, or stuffed inside a lechon, or roasted pig, soaking in bubbling pig fat, this rich, rice recipe is one that every household in Puerto Rico has a variation on. This recipe, courtesy of Wilo Benet, chef of Pikayo Restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is our Arroz con Gandules standard. – Editor’s Note
- 3 tablespoons achiote oil
- 6 ounces cooking ham, diced
- 1 cubanelle pepper, seeds and inner white ribbing removed, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pounded to a paste
- 3 tablespoons sofrito
- 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons chopped culantro
- 1/4 cup green olives stuffed with pimientos
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 (15 ounce) cans of gandules (pigeon peas), drained
- 4 cups medium-grain rice
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
- 2 large plantain leaves
- In a caldero or a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, warm the achiote oil. Add the ham, onion, pepper, garlic and sofrito, and cook for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent and loses its raw taste. Stir in the tomato sauce, culantro, olives and capers, and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the drained pigeon peas.
- Add the rice and pour in the chicken stock. Season with the salt, drizzle with the olive oil, and stir. Bring to a full boil, and cook until the water evaporates and the surface of the rice is visible with some bubbling in between the grains, about 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat, and place the plantain leaves over the rice (the leaves provide a wonderful addition of flavor while they aid in containing the steam needed for cooking the rice). Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and lower the heat. Cook for about 28 minutes until the all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice grains are loose and fully cooked.