Arroz con Gandules ( Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
Puerto Rican cuisine doesn’t get more quintessentially Puerto Rican than the iconic Arroz con Gandules. It’s considered the national dish for a reason! This savory rice dish is unmistakable thanks to the signature blend of spices and the nutty aroma of the locally grown pigeon peas (also known as gandules).
There’s hardly ever a celebration without it, so whether it’s Christmas, a birthday party, a family reunion or a cookout, you can’t go wrong with a generous side of this tasty rice dish!
Arroz Con Gandules ( Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- 15 oz pigeon peas (gandules), canned
- 2 cups parboiled rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup country ham or bacon, diced (optional)
- 1/3 cup sofrito
- 2 tbsp tomato paste or 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 3 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ tsp sazón con achiote y culantro
- 1 tsp adobo seasoning
- 1 cube chicken bouillon or more if needed (optional – can be used instead of chicken broth base)
- 2 tablespoons pimento stuffed olives (optional)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped (optional)
- In a Dutch oven (or caldero) heat up 1 tablespoon on olive oil over medium heat, then add and chopped bacon or ham (if using) and cook slowly, stirring often until the meat becomes lightly crispy around the edges, then stir in the sofrito.
- If you're not using bacon, just add the sofrito after the oil and fry, stirring often until the onions become translucent.
- Now stir in 1 ½ teaspoons of Sazon, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, the drained pigeon peas, adobo seasoning, and the water with chicken stock cube (or chicken broth).
- Stir in the olives and fresh cilantro at this point if using. Combine everything together and bring to a boil.
- Taste the liquid and adjust for salt (using either table salt or more chicken stock cube) and spices. Ideally it should be slightly on the salty side and a little over-seasoned, because this will impact the flavor of the rice at the end.
- Add the rice, making sure it's submerged and stir a couple of times to spread the tomato paste and peas throughout. Cook until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is visible at the top.
- Using a wooden spoon, fold the rice inwards from the edges of the pot, cover and turn the heat to low.
- Continue cooking for another 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is fluffy and tender.
- Serve hot as a garnish to your favorite main course.