Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Arroz con gandules!

              Hello again, hope your all doing well and are filled with the holiday spirit, I am sorry I missed out on posting for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but I will make it up to those of you who find my blog interesting and make the effort to take a peek every now and again.  So it's nearing the end of November, Thanksgiving has just left us and christmas is upon us, in my family christmas eve was the time we'd begin the festivities, I remember waking to the smell of  roast pork and Arroz con gandules when I was a kid and thinking "I can't wait to just dig in" my mothers' cooking was "tops" to me, no one could beat it.  I'd get a little upset when my parents wanted to go visit other family members during the holidays because to me that meant it was possible my mom wasn't cooking.  But to my delight or "our" delight (me and my eight brothers and sisters, yes eight) and perhaps to her detriment, my dad would mention how it wouldn't be right if she didn't cook (he loved her cooking) and she'd again wake early and begin the preparations for our family meal.
              My family knew not to pester mom when she was cooking, we'd watch t.v,  play a game or get on eachothers nerves while she was in the kitchen, but the wonderful aromas eminating from there were enough to drive any kid mad.  Once she was done she'd have the older kids set up a huge table and one by one she'd bring out the lucious dishes she single handedly prepared.  There was potato salad, pasteles (a pureed mix of green banana, plantain, pumpkin, filled with  meat wrapped in a banana leaf or wax paper), arroz con gandules (rice and peas), pernil (roasted pork), lasagna, turkey, macaroni salad, loads of Italian bread or buns and cranberry sauce, she'd place the food on the table and when she was done she'd say "come and eat" in Spanish of course (oh, right , I didn't mention I'm Puerto Rican). we'd excitedly run to the table and it was her pleasure to serve us and watch our happy faces as we ate and laughed at the table. 
                  It has been years since that clear memory of my mother entered my mind, she passed away eight years ago and we've never been the same, but she left a wonderful legacy behind, she taught us to live and enjoy our lives, to laugh and be merry and sing at christmas time to cook and to eat, that's what I'd like my children to remember as well.  So perhaps this specific recipe is a dedication to my mom , a woman who was strong no matter what, who taught strength (yes , it's possible) and gave it, the epitome of great Puerto Rican cooking Josephine Sanchez.  Her birthday is coming up next month, to my mom hope my cooking lives up to your standards.
                 Without further adieux I give you my mamis' recipe for arroz con gandules and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has throughout the years.  If you have any holiday recipes you'd like to share, I invite you to send it and I will post it here as so many people seek new recipes for the holidays, thank you for reading may you all have a merry christmas and a happy new year, take care and enjoy!

Arroz con gandules
4 cups of rice
2 packets of sazon con culantro y achiote
salt to taste
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 cans of gandules or pigeon peas
1/2 cup of pitted olives with red peppers
2 pork chops or ham diced
1 tablespoon of sofrito
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of oil
7 cups of water
1 cup of beer

     In a large pot with a thick bottom add  oil and heat, when hot add the pork or ham and let that brown, add the sazon, cumin, pepper, olives and bay leaf  , let that cook a little then add the rice and coat it with all the ingredients and spices in the pot.  While you were in the process of cooking the meat and spices bring the 7 cups of water and the beer to a boil in a separate pot, when done coating the rice add the gandules and do the same.  Now pour in the water/beer, stir the mixture and let it simmer until all the water has evaporated.  Now you cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to low, cook about another 15 minutes with the lid on.  The authentic  way to make this is with  cut up pork chops or shoulder, however I found that the ham is just as good and the end result is just as tasty.  I really hope you enjoy this recipe , take care and please feel free to comment, bye!!!