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Arroz con Gandules



1 ounce of achiote oil
1/4 cup of chopped onion
3 ounces of sofrito
2 1/2 cups of water
2 cups of fresh gandules (pigeon peas), or 1 (15 ounce) can of gandules
4 ounces of tomato sauce
2 cups of white rice
14 - 16 manzanilla olives
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of black pepper
pinch of oregano
2 beef bouillon cubes

Optional ingredients: 1 ounce of salted fatback (tocino)

1- On medium flame, bring the the achiote oil and the salted fatback to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan. Since the fatback is optional, if you are not using it, simply heat the oil and proceed to step 3.

2 - Simmer the fatback (optional) for 2 -3 minutes until you see it getting golden colored.

3 - Add the chopped onion, and simmer approximately 1 - 2 minutes, until onion is translucent.

4 - Add the sofrito.

5 - Simmer until the sofrito starts to thicken - this could take up to 3 to 10 minutes, depending upon the heat of the stove, and whether your sofrito is at room temperature, or still slightly frozen. Notice the simmering action in the video, and adjust your heat accordingly.

6 - Add the rest of the ingredients, starting with the water.

7 - Let everything come up to a simmer. You may increase the heat to Medium-HI.

8 - Once simmering, stir once, while scraping the rice on the bottom of the pot (to prevent sticking).

9 - Allow the liquid in the pot to evaporate- notice the section in the video that shows the difference between almost ready, and actually ready!

10- Lower the flame to LOW. Cover, and let simmer approximately 20 minutes.

11- After 20 minutes, uncover the pot by quickly flipping the lid- this will catch the water that's under the lid, instead of it falling back into the rice. Discard the water.

12- Carefully stir the rice as follows: with a large serving spoon, take a spoon of rice from the furthest side of the pot, and scoop it into the middle. Turn the pot a little, and repeat. Do this until you've turned the pot once completely around (about 4 or 5 times). This process is called 'moviendo el arroz' in Spanish - literally meaning 'moving the rice'.

13- Cover and simmer another 20 minutes on Low heat.

14- After 20 minutes, again uncover the pot carefully, and take some rice out with a spoon. Taste the rice: a) If it's still a little hard, cover and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes. Then test it again. b) If it's a little sticky, cook uncovered for another 5 - 10 minutes. Then test it again.

15- If it tastes just great, then dig in! Oh, first serve the guests...

16- Remove from heat, and serve.

Buen Provecho !



Tips for gandules: Make sure that, before you cover it to 'simmer', their are almost no water bubbles coming up through the rice. This means that almost all the water has been absorbed or evaporated before you lower the heat and cover the rice.

Another important detail is the saucepan, or pot (olla or caldero) that you use to cook the rice: the bottom of it should be heavy (thick), so that the rice does not burn. If you find that you keep burning the rice, no matter how low heat you simmer on, then the pot that you're using is too thin!

If your rice comes out too soggy (mogollao), you can let it simmer on very low heat, uncovered until the rice dries up somewhat. (From 10 - 30 minutes). It still won't come out perfect, but it will dry up somewhat. (Once the rice grain has absorbed too much water, the grain itself splits lengthwise, exposing the starch inside, which then makes the rice 'gummy').

This recipe calls for achiote oil: *achiote oil: Achiote (annato) imparts a reddish-golden color and a subtle flavor to foods. It is similar to azafran (saffron). It is used in several Puerto Rican dishes, and it is usually made before hand, and stored in the refrigerator after it cools.

To make achiote oil: On low flame, simmer 4 TBSP (1/4 cup) of achiote seeds (annato seeds) per 1 cup of vegetable oil for 5 minutes. Strain seeds from the oil and discard seeds.

Buen Provecho !