Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)


After years of frustrating, obsessive experimentation, this recipe has reached perfection. It’s not just the ingredients, but also the tools used that make it all come together.  My favorite Latin side dish. Add chicken or ham bits to make it a meal!  Take the extra time to make the sofrito and freeze it in ice cube trays - it’s worth it. (Instant Pot method included!)


Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Serves: 4 - 6

Stovetop Method

⅛ cup of Canola Oil (enough to coat the bottom)
1 heaping tablespoon of Sofrito (use Goya frozen sofrito or make your own - recipe below)
1 heaping tablespoon of tomato sauce
1 Sazon packet
2 tsp cumin powder
½ tablespoon salt or to taste
2 cups of medium grain rice RINSED (River brand is great)
2 ¼ cups water
Handful Spanish olives with pimentos (If large - slice them up. If small, leave them whole)
1 can of Goya green pigeon peas

Rinse your rice in a metal strainer until water runs clear and set aside to drain. This gets out all the extra starch to make your rice less sticky.

In a cast aluminum pot over medium low heat (ours is an Imusa 3.7 quart), coat the bottom with oil. When oil heats up, add the sofrito, tomato sauce, cumin, and Sazon. Stir to combine and let saute a minute or so.  Add water and salt to taste, and bring it up to a hot simmer. When hot, add rice, pigeon peas and olives. Stir and bring to a boil. When boiling, lower the heat all the way to LOW and cover. Set timer for 11 minutes. No peeking or stirring.

See that dark stripe? That's pegao!
When time is up, remove the lid. All the gandules have floated to the top. Stirring up from the bottom, mix everything together with a heavy metal spoon - being careful to leave that crunchy bottom layer - that is called the “pegao” and it’s usually fought over at dinner tables across Latin America. Cover the rice again, and let cook for approx 10-12 more minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.




Sofrito:

2 big bunches of cilantro (chop off the thick stems)
2 green bell peppers (seeded and cut into large chunks)
2 heads of garlic (peeled into cloves)
1 medium onion (chopped into large chunks)
Olive oil

With a small amount of oil in a blender or processor, grab a little bit of each ingredient and start blending until complete. Sofrito! Freeze into an ice cube tray for the perfect size you’ll need for each batch of rice.


Method for Instant Pot:

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Serves: 4 - 6

Update: I tested this recipe in the Instant Pot, and made these adjustments for the perfect pot of rice! You do not need all the oil for a pressured environment, so either use a very small amount, or eliminate it altogether. The water is reduced to 2 cups in this method.

On "Saute" setting, add 1 tsp oil, plus the sofrito, Sazon, tomato Sauce, and cumin. Saute until combined - this will go quickly.

Add the rest of the ingredients, adjusting only the water measurement: 2 cups water, rinsed rice, salt, olives, pigeon peas (plus any meat if you like).

Click the rice setting.

That's it! Once the timer is done, do a Quick Release.

The extras will float to the top.
After a good mix, your rice is ready.


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