I thought it would be a good idea to post a recipe for arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) since I raved about it in my last post. Trouble is, when I asked my mother-in-law for the recipe she gave me the response most lifelong home cooks give. "Oh you know, put a little bit of salt, water, rice to cover..." You can see where I'm going with this. The lady doesn't measure ingredients--ever! So what I decided to do was to take a recipe for the dish from one of my favorite cookbooks, and make adjustments based on what I've learned from watching the mother-in-law make it.
There are two Puerto Rican cookbooks in our home. One is Puerto Rican Cuisine in America by Oswald Rivera. The other is Cocina Criolla by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli. It was given to my mother-in-law as a wedding present back in 1960, and she still uses it. I'm fortunate in that she's been kind enough to allow me to borrow it from time to time. It's a real treasure. The book is in Spanish, so it takes me a few minutes to figure out some of the ingredients. I hear the book is now available in an English translation.
Arroz con Gandules
adapted from a recipe by Oswald Rivera
special thanks to Rebeca C.
1 can pigeon peas (I like the Goya brand)*
2 cups rice
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 lb. salt pork, rinsed under cold water and diced
1/4 lb. lean cured ham, rinsed under cold water and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbs. chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olives (with pimentos)
2 Tbs. capers
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbs. dry white wine
salt to taste
2 cups water
*Note: If you decide to use dry beans, soak 1 lb. of beans overnight and cook until tender. Drain, setting aside 2 cups of the cooking liquid--you can use that in place of the 2 cups water.
1. Wash rice and drain.
2. Heat oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Brown salt pork.
3. Add ham and cook until golden crisp (on medium heat).
4. Add onion, peppers, cilantro, garlic,cilantro, olives and capers for about 5 minutes, or until onions begin to appear translucent.
5. Add tomato sauce and cook about 3 minutes.
6. Stir in rice, add peas, water (or reserved liquid), wine, and salt.
7. Bring to a boil, uncovered, until water begins to be absorbed by the rice.
8. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and let rice sit about 10 minutes prior to serving.