Con gandules: Arroz con Gandules | How to Make Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas
Arroz con Gandules | How to Make Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas
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Arroz con Gandules | I am in full on Christmas mode! Feliz Navidad mi gente! I just so excited to be going home to P.R. for Christmas. Because I am so pumped for Christmas I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite Christmas foods.
Yesterday I told you all about a creamy coconut rice pudding called arroz con dulce.
Today we are going to talk about rice. Rice? Yes, rice because you must understand that Puerto Rican Christmas isn’t Christmas without arroz con gandules.
Every Puerto Rican Christmas Eve dinner requires three things arroz con gandules, pernil and pasteles. It’s not Christmas without this trinity.
If there is anything, we Puerto Ricans know it’s rice. Growing up, I think I ate it with almost every meal. It wasn’t always the same rice; sometimes it was white, yellow or orange.
Sometimes it had chicken, beef, pork or sausage. Sometimes it had beans over it and an over-medium egg with some fried sweet plantains on the side.
Mmmmmm, I am making myself hungry again. In PR, there are countless ways to make rice but, this is my favorite hands down.
There are a few things that are essential to making a great pot of arroz con gandules.
How to Make Arroz con Gandules
Do You Need to Rinse Rice?
When I was a kid watching my mother make dinner, she would always rinse the rice. When I got older, I thought that this step was more of a learned habit than a necessary step. But, I quickly realized that this is a very necessary step.
Rice straight out of the bag is coated in excess starch, and that added starch will make your rice sticky if not rinsed. Arroz con gandules is not meant to be sticky; it should be light and fluffy.
Pork is frequently used in one form or another in Puerto Rican cuisine. It can make an appearance as a main dish or as a flavor booster. In, arroz con gandules, it’s used as a flavor booster. Can you make arroz con gandules without bacon drippings?
Yes, you can use olive oil or canola oil instead. But, bacon dripping adds to an authentic flavor. However, be careful to use bacon that has not been cured so, no hickory or applewood smoked bacon.
If you can find strips of skin-on pork belly like pictured above that is GREAT! If not, you can also use salt pork.
But, make sure you thoroughly rinse the salt pork under cold water to remove some of the salt.
Finally, take your time and cook the bacon slowly at a medium temperature. This will produce the crispiest bacon and most drippings.
What is Sofrito?
Sofrito is the heart and soul of Puerto Rican cuisine. It’s our version of mire pox or the holy trinity, except there are way more than just three ingredients. It is the base of many Puerto Rican dishes and leaving it out when it’s called for is not an option.
I am a firm believer that homemade is superior to store bought, so I choose to make my own. But, that does not mean I never use store bought. Sometimes there isn’t time to make it, and store bought is acceptable.
However, let me clarify the difference between sofrito and recaito. In Puerto Rico sofrito, DOES NOT have tomatoes, unlike Spain’s sofrito that is made with tomato.
Also, sofrito and recaito are used interchangeably in Puerto Rico. That being said if you are going to buy sofrito what you want is recaito.
I know confusing, sorry. The best way to remember is a little rhyme “green go and red no.”
What Kind of Rice for Arroz con Gandules?
Puerto Rican rice is made with medium-grain rice…the end. The problem is that in the states medium grain rice can be hard to find. But, thanks to the power of the internet you can have a bag delivered to your door.
Which is what I did when I lived in Tulsa. Why do we use medium grain rice? It’s all about the texture. Short grain rice produced rice that is too sticky, and long grain makes very loose rice. We like our rice somewhere in between.
Why Toast the Rice?
Toasting the rice in drippings or oil helps to keep the rice loose and fluffy. Do not over stir the rice when toasting.
You want to allow it time to toast and create a thin barrier from the liquid that helps towards optimal fluffiness. You want to toast it until it’s just beginning to brown.
How to Make Pegao
Also, if you want the coveted “pegao”, which is the crusty toasted rice at the bottom of the pot, you have to make the rice in a caldero.
After the last stir of the rice while toasting and before adding the liquid add a little more oil and let the rice toast until it starts to stick to the bottom.
Then add the liquid and cook as instructed cooking for 10 minutes longer allowing the rice to get crispy on the bottom.
Keep an eye on it! You want it to toast not burn. Making pegao is an art not everyone gets it right for the first time.
How much water for Arroz con Gandules?
The standard ratio of rice to water is 1 to 2. So, for every 1 cup of rice you use two cups of water. But, when it comes to arroz con gandules I have found that that ratio isn’t quite right.
The issue is that the added ingredients such as tomato sauce, sofrito and gandules and rinsing of rice equals to added liquid.
I have found the ratio of 1 1/4 cups of water per cup of rice works better. This is something that my grandmother and mother-in-law taught me, and it works for me every time.
How to Create a Tight Seal when Making Rice
A tight seal when steaming the rice is essential! Back in the day, a plantain tree leaf would be laid over the rice and covered to help create a tight seal.
Nowadays we use foil. Not having a tight seal allows heat and water to seep which could result in undercooked rice.
Arroz con gandules is not strictly for Christmas it’s just a must-have during Christmas! It is the most loved rice, very tender and full of flavor and I love the pigeon peas because of they kind of pop in your mouth.
This is great and, believe it or not, it makes great leftovers. It doesn’t get hard and brittle like most leftover rice. It stays soft and re-heats very well.
Make a big pot because you’re going to want more later. My favorite way to have arroz con gandules leftovers is topped with a runny egg! NOM!
If you are looking for more holiday Puerto Rican treats try roasted pernil, pasteles de masa, or arroz con dulce. But you have been warned all of these are incredibly addictive.
Are you in search of even more Puerto Rican flavors? Pork is a large part of Puerto Rican cuisine but, explore more Puerto Rican flavors by visiting my entire collection of Puerto Rican recipes.
more puerto rican recipes
- slow cooker pernil
- roasted pernil
- fricase de pollo
- 4 cups medium grain rice, rinsed
- 4 strips pork belly or uncured thick cut bacon
- 1/2 cup Sofrito
- 1 15 oz can Gandules (Pigeon Peas), drained
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 8 Spanish olives halved
- salt and pepper
- 5 cups water
- 1 banana leaf (optional)*
- Heat a large pot or caldero on medium heat, slowly cook the pork belly until crispy, remove bacon from pot and set aside leaving the drippings.
- Add sofrito to the drippings, cook about 3-5 minutes. Add rice to the pot to toast the rice, about 5 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, capers, olive and pigeon peas. Gently stir until well combined.
- Add water, bring it to a boil on high until water begins to evaporate, place banana leaf or foil over the rice, cover and simmer on low for 35 minutes.
- Add crispy bacon and fluff with a fork. Serve
*It is important not to stir rice more than once otherwise, it will come out very sticky.
*The banana leaf it optional, it gives the rice a nice flavor. I purchase my banana leaves at my local Asian market.
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Goya Foods Sazon Economy Pack, 3.52 oz
IMUSA USA Traditional Aluminum Caldero
Amount Per Serving:
Carbohydrates: 85gProtein: 14g
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Arroz con Gandules — Analida’s Ethnic Spoon
Arroz con Gandules is a Puerto Rican rice favorite and staple. You’ll frequently see it at special events such as holidays, baby showers, weddings, and more. Fun historical fact: Puerto Ricans brought this dish to Hawaii in 1900 as they went to work on sugar plantations. It’s also popular in other Latin American countries. As an added plus, arroz con gandules goes amazingly well with pernil and bistec encebollado. This recipe is awesome because you can make it in bulk and eat it throughout the week, or you may freeze it and save it for later.
- What are gandules or pigeon peas?
- Gandules History
- What kind of rice do I use for this recipe?
- Seasonings for arroz con gandules.
- Step by step photos:
- Frequently Asked Questions:
- More delicious Latin American dishes to try
- Arroz con Gandules
What are gandules or pigeon peas?
Gandules doesn’t have a direct translation in English, but in the supermarket, you will see them in a can labeled «pigeon peas. «
In researching the origins of ancient staple food, I was amazed at the many uses. Here are just a few:
1. They can be dried and ground into flour. The flour is used to make roti-like breads.
2. The hedge grows to be about 5’0″ .
3. When pruned the nodules release nitrogen which is good for other plants nearby.
4. They are high in potassium and are a good source of protein.
In Panama, where I grew up, the favorite way to eat arroz con gandules (guandu) is mixed in with a coconut rice. Puerto Ricans make it a totally different way and I like their way better than the version I grew up with. Not that I don’t like coconut rice, I love it.
Because it is next to impossible to purchase fresh gandules where I live, I often seek out a couple of different brands: Goya and El Jibarito. You’ll find them in a can. The quality of both products is consistently good and I have links in the recipe to order on Amazon. If you are making a small batch of rice, you only need to use ½ the can and you can freeze the rest in a container for later use. Make sure you freeze them in a little water so they don’t get freezer burnt.
Gandules originated in the Indian subcontinent around 3,500 years ago. They’re also a popular source of protein in India, served over rice or roti. Gandules then made their way to Latin America, where we know and love to eat them today. Most people outside of the Caribbean and West Indies aren’t familiar with pigeon peas, but that’s why we’re making arroz con gandules today!
Gandules or Guandu depending on where you are from, are a small roundish bean that grows in a perennial bush. There are three different types of gandules (aka guandu): black, green and striped. Depending on where you’re from, they might take a different name. In Panama, we call them guandu. In the United States, they’re known as pigeon peas. If you can’t find them in your grocery store, no worries. Feel free to swap them with some pinto beans or red beans.
What kind of rice do I use for this recipe?
I like to use medium grain white rice and be sure you rinse the rice. The rice will contain a lot of starch that will make the finished dish sticky. To properly rinse the rice, place it in a large bowl and fill it with water. Carefully pour off the water and you will see the starch flowing out. Repeat until the water runs mostly clear. Pour off all the water before adding it to the recipe.
Seasonings for arroz con gandules.
Puerto Ricans like to use sazón, bacon and chicken stock to flavor this dish. If it has bacon, how can it not be good, right? Make sure you’re using pork belly or uncured thick bacon. Now here is where the flavor comes in. You’ll sauté the bacon and onions together with the gandules releasing all those rich, savory aromatics.
The next important component is the sazón. You can purchase sazon at the store or try making your own. Some store bought sazón contains MSG. I like the store bought versions but some people are sensitive to MSG and try to avoid it. It is very easy to make your own sazón with no MSG and I have included the ingredients and instructions on how to make your own in the recipe notes below. Sazón seasonings are typically a blend of cumin, cilantro, ground annatto (achiote), and ground pepper.
In Puerto Rico and much of Latin America, the method for cooking rice is in a large aluminum pot with a lid called a caldero. This word translates literally to cauldron. It is similar to porcelain coated cast iron-style metal pots that will evenly distribute steam for nice, fluffy rice. It also does a great job making the crispy rice that people so enjoy. Do you need a caldero to make this recipe? You don’t. I use a Dutch oven and it works fantastically. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, feel free to simply use a regular saucepan with a lid. I like to keep my recipes accessible!
Step by step photos:
- Step 1: In a large dutch oven or pot with lid saute the onions and bacon in olive oil for about 5 minutes or until soft. (I like to use my 5.5 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven for this.)
- Step 2: Drain and rinse the gandules and then add to the pot. Stir them into the onions and bacon for about 3 minutes.
- Step 3: Add the sazón and recaito.
- Step 4: Then add the broth and water.
- Step 5: Add the rice then turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn down the heat to medium and cover. Cook for 20-25 minutes covered.
- Step 6: Remove the cover and stir to fluff up the rice and serve.
Note: To make this recipe vegetarian/vegan, simply omit the bacon and chicken stock. Opt for a home-made vegetable stock instead made with some mushrooms to bring out some umami and savory, meat-like flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I make the sazón seasoning with no MSG?
Combine 1 Tbsp of Kosher salt, turmeric, white pepper, ground coriander, ground annato
, garlic powder and oregano. Mix well and store in a sealed jar in a dark place. Use the same amount as you would in other recipes that call for sazón.
How long can I store this in the refrigerator?
Once it has completely cooled you can store this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave on medium power until hot but stop and stir every 30 seconds to fluff it up.
Can I freeze the arroz con gandules?
Yes, once it has completely cooled you can pack into zip top freezer bags packed flat to save space and expel all the air. This will keep for a month in the freezer. Thaw it completely and microwave is as described above.
If I make half the recipe can I store the left over gandules?
Yes, you can freeze the gandules in water for up to 6 months in an airtight container in the freezer. Thaw, drain, rinse and use them in the dish.
More delicious Latin American dishes to try
If you love Latin food then you have to try some of my all time favorite dishes or bookmark them for later. Here are some of the most popular Latin American ethnic dishes, their history and ingredients to make at home.
Cuban Ropa Vieja: A true comfort food of slow cooked beef served over rice.
Recaito: This is the cilantro based ingredient used in many Latin soups, stews and black beans.
Sofrito: You need to have this base ingredient for Latin style beans and shredded chicken.
Latin Style or Cuban Black Beans: If you have never tried these you are missing out and they are so easy!
Tilapia Ceviche: A citrus cured fish or shrimp appetizer with some kick.
If you try any of these recipes leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!
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Sign up for my free recipe newsletter to get new recipes in your inbox each week! You can also find me sharing more inspiration in Pinterest and Facebook.
4.92 from 12 votes
Arroz con Gandules
This is a Puerto Rican favorite, present at almost every meal. The earthy taste of gandules (pigeon peas) is combined with bacon, sazón and rice for a perfect side dish.
Course Main dish
Cuisine Latin American
Keyword arroz, gandules, guandu, Panama, pigeon peas, Puerto Rican, Puerto rican dishes, rice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings: Change to adjust-> 8 servings
Calories 304 kcal
Author Analida Braeger
- 2 cups medium grain white rice rinced
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp sazon Goya brand
- ⅓ cup recaito
- 1 onion small, diced
- ¼ cup bacon thick, diced
- 15. 5 oz gandules 1 can (pigeon peas), drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp parsley chopped
In a 6 qt pan on medium heat sauté onions and bacon in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the gandules and stir quickly for about 3 minutes. Immediately add the sazón, broth, water and rice.
Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cover. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes. Fluff, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Add salt to taste. (The saltiness of the bacon can vary so I check the salt level at the end.)
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do I make the sazón seasoning in this dish without MSG? Combine 1 Tbsp of Kosher salt, turmeric, white pepper, ground coriander, ground annato, garlic powder and oregano. Mix well and store in a sealed jar in a dark place. Use the same amount as you would in other recipes that call for sazón.
- How long can I store this in the refrigerator? Once it has completely cooled you can store this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave on medium power until hot but stop and stir every 30 seconds to fluff it up.
- Can I freeze this dish? Yes, once it has completely cooled you can pack into zip top freezer bags packed flat to save space and expel all the air. This will keep for a month in the freezer. Thaw it completely and microwave is as described above.
- If I make half the recipe can I store the leftover gandules? Yes, you can freeze the gandules in water for up to 6 months in an airtight container in the freezer. Thaw, drain, rinse and use them in the dish.
To make this recipe vegetarian/vegan, simply omit the bacon and chicken stock. Opt for a home-made vegetable stock instead made with some mushrooms to bring out some umami and savory, meat-like flavor.
Arroz con Gandules
Amount Per Serving
Calories 304 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 0. 01g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Vitamin A 93IU2%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Photo: Irina Buzhor, Kommersant
Photo: Irina Buzhor, Kommersant
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The bank proposes to introduce a «cooling off period» during which suspicious transfers will be stopped. Now the term is being discussed — from two days to two weeks. If during this time the client withdraws his transfer, the bank is obliged to return the entire amount.
A bill with such a norm is planned to be adopted in the State Duma in the first reading in the near future.
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People wanted to instantly transfer money from card to card, send some amounts to their parents, and so on. And when there is a cooling period, and the payment will have to wait two weeks, this, of course, will cause some dissatisfaction. And the whole problem is that the negative will begin to be broadcast precisely to the banks.
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Now it is almost impossible for a client to return the money that was stolen from him by malefactors. According to the Central Bank, the share of returns does not exceed 5% of the total amount of stolen funds.
News in your rhythm — Kommersant FM Telegram channel.
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