Food & Drink Magazine

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

By Jannese Torres @delishdlites
Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

There's nothing more quintessentially Puerto Rican than arroz con gandules. It's part of our national dish (along with Pernil). For holidays, birthdays, baby showers, and more, if there's a party, this dish will be there. Everyone has a little twist on how they prepare this dish, but here's my version. Buen Provecho!

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sofrito (homemade is best!)
1/3 cup country ham, chopped (optional)
2 cups parboiled rice
3 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
1 packet sazón con achiote y culantro
1 packet powdered chicken bouillon
Goya Adobo Seasoning
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons pimento stuffed olives
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 15-ounce can Pigeon Peas/Gandules, drained and rinsed

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

To make this dish properly, I believe you can only use one kind of pot, a caldero.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Caldero literally translated into cauldron. It's similar to a Dutch oven, but instead of being made from cast iron, it's usually fabricated from aluminum. Every self-respecting Puerto Rican household has one. The tapered edges and rounded bottom allows for steam to circulate through the rice, and produced a fluffy texture that is more difficult to achieve in a regular stock pot. These pots are also great for braising meats, stews and soups, and are oven safe (with a metal knob).

So heat your caldero or Dutch oven to medium heat, and add your olive oil and sofrito. Stir constantly until fragrant and tender, but not browned, about 4 minutes. You would then add in your ham, if desired. I didn't use any for this batch, as my client doesn't eat pork.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Next add in your Sazon.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Next up, add in your tomato sauce and chicken bouillon. This process of adding the dried ingredients helps wake up the flavors of these items, allowing them to bloom.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Next, add your water, Italian seasoning, cilantro, bay leaves, and olives. Bring the mixture to a boil, then taste for salt. If it needs more saltiness, add in a sprinkle of Adobo until it's well seasoned. You want this liquid to be highly seasoned, as it will determine the final seasoning of the rice.

Next, it's time to add your pigeon peas! Pigeon peas, popular throughout the Caribbean West Indies, are small, oval beans with a nutty flavor. They can be found fresh, frozen, canned or dried. They are a bright green color when fresh. If you can get them fresh or frozen (I've found them in NJ Latin Food Markets), go for it, they're even more flavorful and nutty. If you can't find them, you can substitute with canned pinto, pink or red beans and it'll still be delish!

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Once the mixture comes up to a boil again, add in your rice. Parboiled rice is my favorite for this recipe because it's almost impossible to end up with mushy rice. You want the grains of rice to be loose and not sticky. Parboiled rice has been partially cooked, so some of the starch has been removed. This makes the rice less sticky, which is this case, is exactly what we want.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Don't mind my ridiculously full pot, I was making 10 lbs of rice, and I definitely pushed the limits of this pan!

Stir the rice to get it submerged and distribute the pigeon peas throughout. Allow the rice to absorb all the visible liquid, uncovered.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Once most of the visible surface liquid is absorbed, stir and cover the rice, lower the flame to low, and allow it to steam for 20-25 minutes. It's done with all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are fluffy and fully cooked.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Serve to a delighted crowd of friends and family!

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

This recipe freezes very well, so make a big batch and portion it into storage bags for a quick weeknight side dish. To reheat, transfer into a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is hot & fluffy.

Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup sofrito (homemade is best!)
  • ⅓ cup country ham or bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups parboiled rice
  • 3 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 packet sazón con achiote y culantro
  • 1 packet powdered chicken bouillon
  • Goya Adobo Seasoning
  • ⅓ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons pimento stuffed olives
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 15-ounce can Pigeon Peas/Gandules, drained and rinsed
  1. Heat your caldero or Dutch oven to medium heat, and add your olive oil, ham (or bacon) and sofrito. '
  2. Stir constantly until fragrant and tender, but not browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Next add in the Sazon, tomato sauce and chicken bouillon. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the water, Italian seasoning, cilantro, bay leaves, and olives.
  5. Allow the liquid to come up to a boil, and taste it for salt. If it needs more saltiness, add in a sprinkle of Adobo until it's well seasoned. You want this liquid to be highly seasoned, as it will determine the final seasoning of the rice.
  6. Add in the drained pigeon peas, then bring the mixture back up to a boil.
  7. Once the mixture is boiling, add the rice.
  8. Stir the rice to get it submerged and distribute the pigeon peas throughout.
  9. Allow the rice to absorb all the visible liquid, uncovered.
  10. Once most of the visible surface liquid is absorbed, stir and cover the rice, lower the flame to low, and allow it to steam for 20-25 minutes.
  11. It's done with all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are fluffy and fully cooked.

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