Cookbook:Arroz con Gandules

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  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon achiote (annatto) seeds
  • 1 cup Sofrito (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons of Alcaparrado (manzanilla olives, pimientos and capers) or coarsely chopped pimiento manzanilla and stuffed olives
  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1½ pounds smoked pork, turkey, or ham, skin removed and chopped
  • 6 cups of long grain rice (do not rinse).
  • A 13 ounce bag of frozen pigeon peas or a 15 ounce can of pigeon peas drained and rinsed
  • Beef, chicken, turkey or vegetable broth. Home made is best but you can use store bought or water (about 7½ cups)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 banana leaf or plantain leaf

For the Sofrito

  • 2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
  • 3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
  • 16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, washed
  • 7 to 10 ajices dulces (sweet chili peppers), optional
  • 4 leaves of culantro (recao), or another handful cilantro
  • 3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks


  1. Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. Remove ½ cup of sofrito for rice. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze in ice trays and it will last a month.
  3. Heat the oil and annatto seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until the seeds give off a lively, steady sizzle. Don't overheat the mixture or the seeds will turn black and the oil a nasty green. Once they're sizzling away, pull the pan from the heat and let stand until the sizzling stops. Strain as much of the oil as you can into a heavy 5-quart pot or Dutch and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Lightly toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet over low heat for a few minutes before grinding them releases flavor and aroma. Keep an eye on them then turn dark fast. Grind seeded in a little spiced grinder or coffee mill.
  5. If using frozen pigeon peas boil for 10 minutes before using.
  6. Re-heat oil over high heat until rippling. Stir in pork and brown. Add sofrito, alcaparrado, salt, bay leaves, cumin, & pepper. Cook until sofrito stops boiling and sizzles, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the rice and peas until everything is mixed together & rice is coated with oil all over. Stir in enough broth or water to cover the rice by the width of two fingers. Top with banana leaf, folding it up as necessary to fit over rice or can cut what ever sticks out pot. Bring to a boil & boil without stirring until the level of liquid meets the rice. Remove the banana leaf, give the rice a big stir, and put leaf back on top. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with led, and cook until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. About 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the banana leaf, give the rice a big stir, and fluff with a fork. Serve hot.