The other day I was watching Navidad Utilisima which was the Christmas special for the Spanish-Language television channel Utilisima. In one of the segments, a very charming Puerto Rican man cooked up some Arroz con Gandules, Rice with Green Pigeon Peas, which is a very traditional Caribbean dish. My mom cooks it but does it very differently. I wanted to learn this version and try it myself. I went on to Utilisima.com to find the recipe but it wasn't there! Good thing I taped the show. I watched the segment again, took notes and tried the dish out. And voila!
Adapted from Utilisima
Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Green Pigeon Peas)
1 small package of pork bones
4-1/2 cups of broth
1 whole onion
aromatics (whatever seasonings you want, I used cumin, garlic and oregano)
salt and pepper to taste
Arroz con Gandules
1-1/2 cups of cubed pork loin (I bought a big pork loin and used the rest of the meat for another dish)
1 cup diced all-natural ham (with no nitrates or nitrites!)
1 onion diced
1 green pepper diced
2-3 garlic cloves pressed
2 cans of Goya Gandules (Green Pigeon Peas)
2 cups of uncookeed long grain rice
2 bay leaves
cilantro and chopped plum tomatoes for garnish
Makes 8 servings
To make the Pork Broth, add pork bones, water, onion and aromatics. Cover pot with lid and bring to a bowl. Lower to medium heat and let simmer with the lid partially covering the pot. Cook for about 45 minutes or until broth has some flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Strain and set aside.
Chop up your pork and dice your ham, green pepper and onions. Season your pork cubes with salt and pepper.
Heat some extra light olive oil in a deep pot until the oil sizzles. Sear the pork cubes.
Add the ham, onion and green peppers to the pork cubes and saute until the onions and green pepper start to break down. Or until the onions begin to be translucent.
Add the pressed garlic, gandules (make sure to rinse them!) and rice.
Cover with 4 cups of the homemade pork broth and add the 2 bay leaves. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. If the pork broth is still hot this will happen quickly.
Bring the heat down to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Check 10 minutes in and stir the rice so all of it gets cooked evenly. If its too wet for your taste, you can always cook for an extra 5-10 minutes, stirring carefully and occasionally so it dries out a bit.
Top with cilantro and fresh chopped plum tomatoes. Or you can also top with chopped roasted red peppers. The green and red give the dish a great look. This dish is a complete meal!