Christmas has arrived and like the Puerto Rican that I am, rice with pigeon peas is already in my kitchen. Although this rice, which is also typically Dominican, is eaten year-round, it’s not to be missed in any of the festivities this month.
For this occasion, I will share the secrets inherited by my grandparents so that literally, as we say in Puerto Rico, what you cook will “taste like grandma” or like a “party on the mountain.”
Preparation of Rice With Pigeon Peas
- Start frying ribs or pork patties. Remember to season them well with salt, pepper, oregano and fresh garlic. Leave it aside for a bit.
- Then, add bacon or ham to cook, this will give you much more flavor. Put it aside and save some of the oil for the next step.
- A Puerto Rican style sofrito (dressing) with garlic, sweet spice (cachucha), white or red onion, a Cuban pepper and a bell pepper, oregano, cilantro and coriander. There’s nothing better than making it fresh, but there are also ready-to-eat options in almost any supermarket these days. You’ll find the recipe in my book and on my website, you’ll find many of my ideas.
- Once you’ve cooked the sofrito for 3 minutes, add achiote, tomato sauce, pork meat and bacon and cook it on low for 3 minutes.
- Afterwards, add the cooked pigeon peas and let it boil for 3 more minutes. It’s better if they’re frozen or cold, but if they’re canned, the Magi won’t get mad.
- Later, add the rice, stir it, add water, salt and cook them as if it were simple white rice. If you want to get creative, put a drizzle of beer in substitution for the water.
- Cover it with a banana leaf before putting the top on, giving it an exquisite taste and aroma. You can usually find these leaves frozen in the supermarket and only have to thaw, chop and heat them up before using them.
- When it’s time to move them around 15 minutes later, add red peppers, fresh cilantro and stuffed olives.
- Don’t move it too much, it will only take a little bit more to be done, if you compare it with white rice. Use medium or long grain, but never put more than 1 or 1 1/4 of water per cup of rice and test the water of the rice while boiling, to know if it lacks salt.
Decorate it with fresh cilantro, more canned peppers (morrones) and olives. However, if you want it to look like in the magazines, put a banana leaf at the bottom of the plate before serving.
You’ll see with these tips that your rice with pigeon peas will taste like a pure “Puerto-Rican Christmas.”
Doreen Colondres is a celebrity chef. Author of the book The Kitchen Does not Bite. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @DoreenColondres and visit www.LaCocinaNoMuerde.com, www.TheKitchenDoesntBite.com