During the Christmas season, we all strive to spend as much time with family as we can. However, sometimes the overload of cooking and baking delicious meals and desserts affects that as it is very time-consuming. Depending on the size of your family, you’re most likely keeping an eye out for those dishes that are simple yet still provide enough servings for the entire family. Arroz Con Gandules is one of those meals, and it’s known for being served as a Christmas tradition. We will walk you through this article with the preparation phases, followed by a simple recipe to try. Before this, let’s get a better understanding of the Puerto Rican dish.
Significance with Puerto Rico
If you Google Arroz Con Gandules, most recipes will mention how important this meal is in Puerto Rico. In the 1900s, a group of immigrants went to work in one of Hawaii’s most excellent plantations. While working there, they came across a large shrub called a “gandule.” Shortly after, Arroz Con Gandules was made and is Puerto Rico’s most-known national dish. The dish is a part of Filipino cuisine and a traditional celebratory meal. It is most popular around the holidays, especially during the Christmas season. This dish became well-known in Puerto Rico in the 16th century as people worked through different techniques to grow and harvest rice.
What Is Arroz Con Gandules?
As mentioned before, Arroz Con Gandules is a Puerto Rican dish prepared for times of celebration. The main ingredients are rice, pork, pigeon peas, and sofrito. For those who may not know, sofrito is essentially a sauce base that is commonly used within Latin recipes. It is trendy for its aroma and assortment of nourishing daily vitamins, similar to a vegetable’s nutritional value. In addition to this, the gandules, also known as pigeon peas, are high in nutritional value. The rice in this Filipino dish is referred to as “pegao,” and it is mandatory to cook in a pot greased with oil. When cooking this rice, you should follow the 1 cup rice to 1 cup water ratio to ensure it turns out correctly. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. When it becomes fluffy, it’s done.
Preparing Arroz Con Gandules
Due to containing pork, rice, and vegetables, Arroz Con Gandules is a healthy meal. However, some people prefer to add more vegetables for a hearty feel while indulging in this meal. Families have different ways of making this dish based on their preferences, so there’s no wrong way to make it. When making Arroz Con Gandules, the sofrito is an essential ingredient; however, not everyone adds or doesn’t have access to it. The whole idea of including sofrito in this meal is so that the rice can absorb it, increasing the overall flavor profile of the dish. Similarly, not everyone can find gandules – thankfully, you can use the gandules for Pinto, pink, or red beans, which are much easier to find.
Fresh or Canned Pigeon Peas? What’s better?
Before preparing this dish, you will want to figure out if you will use fresh or canned pigeon peas. Canned peas are easier to drain and pour in while the fresh peas need to be cooked first before combining. Most prefer using fresh pigeon peas due to the sodium levels in the canned ones.
Should You Use Annatto Seeds?
The next thing you’ll want to do is determine whether or not you’d like to use the annatto seeds. They are not essential; however, some have reported that it does add a little extra flavor. Although it may add some flavor, the main reason for using these seeds is to get the yellowish color in your Arroz Con Gandules. If you choose to include the seeds, simply put them in a skillet with a bit of oil and turn on low-medium temperature. By heating the seeds and oil, the annatto seeds let off a yellow hue into the oil. After this process is through, you can discard the roots as you will only need the oil.
The next step is to heat the sofrito in the annatto oil then extract the aromas. Some have trouble knowing when you completed this step. There is an easy tip which is noticing the water begins to evaporate. After heating those substances, combine the olives, bell peppers, bay leaves, capers, and any other desired spices. This combination will need to cook at a low-medium temperature until it forms a thick paste.
Add the pigeon peas, rice, and cumin. If you want to increase the flavor, some other additions could be salt, pepper, oregano, garlic salt, etc. Once added, you can stir and pour over the top of the rice. If you choose to add broth to this dish, heat it in a pot until it’s boiling on high heat. While the broth is heating up, lower the heat on your other combined ingredients for a few minutes. Once it’s all done, serve with a side dish of your choosing and enjoy!
Arroz Con Gandules
Healthy, hearty Puerto Rican dish for a quick, delicious main dish.
Cook time: 35 minutes
Serves: About 6 people
- 1 can gandules or Pinto beans
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups rice, raw
- 2 cups pork or desired meat
- 1/3 cup oil
- 6 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 packet sazon seasoning
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 can green Olives (or black, depending on your preference)
- ½ sofrito
- In a medium pot, add oil and heat at medium heat.
- Add in meat and fry.
- Rinse off and prepare your rice, and cook until it appears fluffy.
- Once the rice and meat are done, combine all ingredients into the pot.
- Mix and serve.