The Recipe - Rice and Beans

Puerto Rican Rice and Beans
Arroz con Grandules

As Veronica Toro-Ruiz, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, taught Lindsay Sterling in Quincy, MA March 2012

Cooking time: 1 hr
Serves: 4-5

1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Goya sofrito (in Latin isle of market)*
1/2 yellow onion, large dice
1/4 c. tomato sauce
1/2 roasted red pepper or jarred pimiento sliced into 3 pieces
2 cups medium grain rice
15 oz. can pigeon peas (substitute Kidney beans if you can't find these)
1 packet Goya seasoning: Sazon Con Azafran (in Latin isle of market)**
2 cups water
5 green olives, sliced off pit
banana leaves (available in the freezer at Latin or Asian markets)

Saute garlic, onion, and sofrito in olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot with lid. When onion is soft, add 1/4 cup tomato sauce and roasted red pepper or pimiento. Let cook 2 minutes. Add rice, stir and cook. Add 1 can pigeon peas with the liquid from the can. Dissolve Goya Sazon Con Azafran or homemade seasoning below with 2 cups water and add to rice. Liquid should just cover ingredients by about 1/4" above solids. Add sliced green olives. Stir to incorporate and then let cook - lid off - without touching on medium. Get banana leaves out of the freezer. Rinse under water until pliable. Cut planks of leave with scissors so that you can cover the top of your pot completely. Once liquid has almost disappeared from the rice, pull the contents of pot away from edges into a mound in the center of the pot. Cover the pot opening with banana leaf and then put the pot lid on top of that, and cook 22 minutes on low.

*Homemade sofrito:

1 green pepper
1 red pepper (if you can find aji peppers in a tropical market, use those!)
1 bunch cilantro (or it's cousin, recaito, if you can find it!)
1 onion
1/2 head garlic
2 large ripe tomatoes

Cut all ingredients into large pieces and blend in blender or Cuisinart. Use 1/3 cup for the rice and beans you're making today, and fill small Ziplocks with 1/3 cup each and freeze. You will be making this dish all the time!

** Homemade spice mixture instead of Goya's sazon packet:

1 tsp annato or achiote powder
1/2 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt

Mix. This is the right amount for the above recipe - rice and beans.

Note: Some of the rice will have formed a crust on the bottom of the pan. This is called pegado (she doesn't pronounce the d) and it's crunchy and delicious. After dinner, scrape it up with a metal spatula or spoon and eat it for seconds.

For step by step pictures, click at right: "See How She Did It."

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2012