Arroz con Gandules-Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas – Recipe

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Sides

Arroz con Gandules-Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas – Recipe

Arroz con Gandules – (Arroz con Gandules recipe and video tutorial) – Arroz con Gandules or, translated into English, Rice with Pigeon Peas is a traditional and delicious Puerto Rican dish. It is a beautiful example of how Mediterranean food combines so well with Caribbean food. The dish has olives, and capers along with several other ingredients, and is cooked under a banana leaf which adds such a nice flavor! The first time I ever tried this dish was at my in-laws house. My Mother-in-Law, Mirta, is a wonderful cook and made a very tasty dinner of Pernil (pork roast), Arroz con Gandules, and Tostones (fried plantains). It was my first real taste of this style of food and I wasn’t quite used to it and at first, I didn’t know what to think. After dinner we all hung out for awhile and visited. Mid-conversation I noticed my Father-in-Law, Carlos, was missing. I then noticed a scraping sound coming from the kitchen. I went in to investigate, knowing he would have something delicious going on. This is something he is famous for. When I got into the kitchen there he was along with two others scraping what appeared to me to be the burnt rice from the bottom of the pan. “Alicia, you have got to try this” he said as he waved my over to the stove. My first taste of the coveted pegau. This is the caramelized rice deliciousness at the bottom of the pan that everyone fights for. YUM! It is sooo good, and that was the moment I knew that I was in total love with Puerto Rican Food and arroz con gandules. Since that night I literally crave some type of Puerto Rican dish once a week. Perfect for my husband, Xavier, because he could eat it every night! So here it is, how to make Arroz con Gandules or for those of us lacking in our Spanish skills (like me) how to make rice and pigeon peas! Oh, I should mention, that this is my healthier take on the traditional, but I will add notes to show the other way too.

Arroz con Gandules Ingredients

2 Tablespoons achiote oil or 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 pack of Sazzon *see note

2 cups sofrito
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

15 – 20 green olives (any kind, I use Spanish, pit them first)

1 Tablespoon capers

3 cups dry brown  rice (traditionally white)

6 cups water

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon smoked sea salt (traditionally one ham hock (I do use these for holiday dinners))*see note

1 bay leaf

1 Tablespoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

30 ounces gandules

1 banana leaf (available frozen in most Asian markets)


1. Place achiote oil into a 8 quart pot on medium heat.

2. Add the sofrito, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, olives and capers and saute for about 3-4 minutes. You want most of the liquid to be gone, but don’t let it get dry on the bottom.

3. Add the rice and saute, stirring until the rice gets chalk spots (they look like someone took a piece of chalk and made tiny lines on your rice).

4. Add the water, gandules,  1 Tablespoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, smoked sea salt, bay leaf, oregano, and thyme.

5. Stir around 3 times (if you stir too much you will release starch from your rice, in this case, we don’t want that).

6. Place the banana leaf on top, you only need a piece as big as your pan, don’t use a whole leaf.

7. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 10-15 minutes, until the top of the liquid is almost touching the rice.

8. Lift the banana leaf with a pair of tongs and fold the rice twice (don’t be tempted to do more).

9. Place the banana leaf back on top and cover with a lid. Put the heat on low and allow to cook 20 more minutes.

10. With a spoon, gently check on the rice. If it is dry and there is some browning on the bottom, it is done. If not re-cover it and check again every few minutes. It is very tempting to mess with the rice and stir it and keep checking on it. DON’T do this. It will make your rice sticky and gooey and not delicious.

I like to serve this with Pernil and Tostones!

Please enjoy this video tutorial.

Sofrito -This will make way more then you need. I make a huge batch in my food processor and freeze it in one cup portions. Feel free to scale this way down (divide by like 4 or so) especially if you don’t have a food processor. I do recommend making the extra and saving it if you have a food processor though. You are going to want to make this again and it will save some time.

2 onions

5 green bell peppers

2 heads garlic

1 bunch recao (or cilantro if you can’t find recao)

1. Peel the garlic and pulse in a food processor until it’s minced. Put it into a large bowl and set it to the side.

2. Hold the stem of the bell peppers and place the bottom of it on the cutting board. Slice the bell peppers down the sides, be careful of the seed packet (throw those away). Take the side pieces that you just cut off and pulse them in the food processor until minced.

3. Add the minced bell pepper to the bowl with your garlic.

4. Peel and quarter the onions. Pulse in a food processor just a few times and add the cilantro. Pulse them together until they’re minced.

5. Add this to the garlic and bell pepper mixture.

6. Stir to combine everything.

You now have the beginning of tons of Island Dishes. Beautiful Sofrito. At this point I freeze it into one cup portions in baggies for future use. It’s a great time saver. Keep two cups out for the recipe though.

*About the achiote oil - You can substitute 1/2 pack of sazzon (look for an orange and white box in the hispanic section of the grocery) and olive oil or you can make it as follows;

1. Cover 1/2 cup achiote seeds (annotto seeds) in olive or canola oil by about an inch.

2. Place on high heat.

3. At the first sign of bubbles and foam take them off the heat (if you wait too long your oil and everything its in will be bitter).

4. Strain the oil into a glass or metal container.

5. You can keep this in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

*Note on the smoked sea salt – I normally would say don’t cook with sea salt. Flavored sea salts are an exception to this rule. Plus, I don’t think smoked Kosher salt exists, that doesn’t even make sense. So you have the option of using either some smoked sea salt or a ham hock.

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2013
Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲
website security