From Puerto Rico with love comes, Arroz con Gandules, the National dish of “La Isla del Encanto.” Although, the most important thing to ever come out of this Caribbean island is my lovely and talented wife.
Gandules (Pigeon Peas) are a popular food in Caribbean cooking. This legume contains high levels of protein, along with the amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan. You can purchase them dried, canned, or frozen. For this recipe I used canned. To enhance the color of the plate, I used both brown pigeon peas and green ones.
The following interpretation is my take on this Puerto Rican classic. I must be free to create in the kitchen, so some of the ingredients have been changed. However, I certainly feel that the tropical soul of the dish is still there.
First we want to create a strong flavor base to work with, that comes from the bacon, andouille sausage, vegetables, spices, and white wine. The wine must be reduced to almost dry. This step is time consuming, however the intense flavor gained makes it all worthwhile. I like to use white extra long grain rice for this preparation. Feel free to substitute brown rice for a healthier plate. The garnish is cooked chorizo, gold pearl onions, edible flowers, and cilantro.
Enjoy this taste from ‘La Isla del Encanto” you will be transported to the Caribbean with a most unique amalgamation of flavors.
Arroz con Gandules:
4 strips bacon – (diced)
3 oz Andouille sausage – (out of casing)
1 golden beet – (small dice)
2 red bell peppers – (small dice)
1 tbs bird’s eye chili – (small dice)
2 leeks - white & light green parts only (small dice)
2 shallots – (small dice)
1 Meyer lemon – (zested & juiced)
15 0z brown pigeon peas – (drained of canning liquid)
15 oz green pigeon peas – (drained of canning liquid)
350 ml Spanish white wine – (Albarino)
8 oz tomato sauce
3 cups uncooked Canilla rice – (extra long grain)
5 cup water
3 bay leafs
1. Heat 1 tbs Safflower oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the bacon and sausage.
2. Cook till rendered.
3. Add the golden beet, leeks, red bell pepper, bird’s eye chili, and shallots.
4. Season with all-spice, ground cumin, ground coriander, sea salt, and white pepper.
5. Cook for 10 minutes.
6. Deglaze with the white wine.
7. Cook till almost completely reduced.
8. Add the Meyer lemon juice and tomato sauce.
9. Cook for 3 minutes.
10. Add the rice, pigeon peas, bay leafs, and water.
11. Re-season with all-spice, ground coriander, ground cumin, sea salt, and white pepper.
12. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Lightly tent with aluminum foil.
13. Cook until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
NOTE: You must stir the pot very frequently. To avoid anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
For the Garnish:
2 Spanish chorizos
10 gold pearl onions
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2. Soak the onions in warm water for 5 minutes to loosen the skin.
3. Using a paring knife peel the skins off.
4. Toss in olive oil & lightly season with sea salt
5. Roast in oven for 25 minutes. Stirring 2 to 3 times to avoid burning.
6. Cut chorizo into ½ inch rounds.
7. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. No oil.
8. Add the chorizo. Brown on both sides. DO NOT OVER DO IT. Brown good, black throw it away.
1. Center a generous portion of the rice.
2. Top with the pearl onions & chorizo.
3. Scatter the edible flowers and cilantro.
4. Finish the presentation with the Meyer lemon zest.
You know a dish is right when you cannot stop eating it. I need a nap, because I really overdid it tonight.
That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!