Sunday, November 1, 2009

Arroz con Gandules

Rice with pidgeon peas and chorizo alongside pernil.

I've done a couple of month-long jaunts in Puerto Rico for work and then spent a week there on vacation.  (PR is awesome; if you have the opportunity, go!)  One thing I learned right away my first time there was that arroz con gandules is ubiqitous on the island. I wanted to try making arroz con gandules when I made my first attempt at Pernil el Horno.

I rounded up some sazon and pigeon peas, but got stuck when it came to the sofrito.  At the time, Emeril LaGasse had the first hit when doing a Google search for sofrito.  I don't know anything about Emeril except that he makes things too complicated and says "bam!" a lot.  I ended up doing a packaged red beans and rice.  Yep, I suck.

Thanks to how Meseidy at The Noshery made it look so easy, I was able to muster enough guts to say "screw it" and make some rice. After all, I had prepared her pernil. It would be down-right criminal not to have that pork with Meseidy's rice.

Aside from the type of sausage I used, chorizo (and my not knowing what to do with it), the recipe is essentially the same as Meseidy's. I did substitute a couple of other things like rice type, cut of bacon, and recaito instead of sofrito.  The sofrito at the store was tomato based, while the recaito was cilantro based, so I went with the recaito as it was closer to what I remembered Meseidy's sofrito looked like.  Click the link below and you'll go to Meseidy's arroz recipe at The Noshery.

Arroz con Gandules

1.5 c long-grain rice
0.5 c basmati rice (we didn't have enough long-grain)
1/4 lb Kirkland low-sodium bacon
4 tbsp recaito
1 15-oz can gandules, drained
1/2 lb fresh chorizo in natural casing
1 envelope Sazon con Culanto y Achiote
8-oz can tomato sauce

Cook chopped bacon in large saucepan over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove bacon from heat and drain on paper towel. Reserve bacon fat in saucepan.

Add sofrito to bacon drippings; cook 3-5 minutes.

Add gandules, sausage, bacon, rice, sazon and tomato sauce. Stir.

Add water and bring mixture to a boil over high heat until water evaporates.

Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

What can I say? This rice is fantastic! I've had my fair share arroz con gandules and this was definitely better than most of those I've had. Of course, the majority were from the kitchen at work and at restaurants, where vats were made at a time and kept in a chafing dish or under a heat lamp.

The rice was tender but not too soft, the peas firm, tomatoes not overwhelming and everything was nicely moist -- not too wet and even better, not too dry. The flavor was excellent. One thing that bothered me was the slick-lip feel I had after each bite. I believe that was due to the chorizo, so I'll have to investigate that further.

  • rice: $1
  • bacon: $0.50
  • recainto: $2.69/12 oz
  • gandules: $2
  • chorizo: $1.08
  • Sazon con Culanto y Achiote: $3
  • tomato sauce: $1
Estimated Total:  $11.27.  I estimated the cost of rice, gandules, sazon and tomato sauce, but included the entire cost of recainto and sazon, though I only used a portion of each. The estimate is probably higher than actual cost, but to be safe, I'll roll with it.  

Enough to serve six generously, that brings each serving to $1.87.  That seems pricey for rice, but this rice could constitute a meal in and of itself!

Click for the printable