Rocket Science Scale : 1 – Very Easy
So last weekend I shared what I am bringing to Thanksgiving this year. But as I said then, I am not the head cook. This will actually be my third year helping in the kitchen. But my parents have had this holiday to a science all throughout my childhood. When my parents host, my dad is the head chef who cooks the turkey and about half of the sides. My mom is the sous chef who takes care of the rest. And that always includes a large pot of her Puerto Rican rice.
Oh have I never mentioned that I’m half Puerto Rican? Yup. I’m the whitest Puerto Rican ever. (I swear my Dad’s German/Polish/Irish won the majority of the genetics battle.) I mean I don’t tan well, I have blonde hair and I missed out on the Vega nose (my mom’s family’s most distinct trait.) BUT I do look similar to my Mima, who is 100% Puerto Rican and also has blonde hair and fair skin.So while I unfortunately do not speak Spanish fluently, I did grow up eating the dishes my Mima made. And the Puerto Rican Rice is a recipe I got from my mom, who got it from my Mima and I’m pretty sure she got it from her mom and so on. It is one of my family’s traditional Thanksgiving sides and one of my favorite quick dinners throughout the year. You could probably even make this after Thanksgiving and put your leftover turkey in it. I dare you.
Mom’s Puerto Rican Rice
Also Known as Arroz con Gandules
Recipe by my Grandma/Mom/Me
Takes anywhere from 30 mins – 1 hr
- 1 and a half cups of rice (my mom always used basmati, no clue why)
- 1 can Pigeon Peas (Goya brand is easiest to find), drained. If you can’t find pigeon peas, use black or kidney beans. But true Puerto Rican rice uses the pigeon peas.
- 1 chicken bouillon cube.
- 1 package of Sazon. This is another specific ingredient but is necessary for this recipe. You can usually find it in the international section or at a Mexican grocery store. If you pick up a small box you can make this rice multiple times!
- 2 cups water (or less. This is the measurement I think I get wrong, since my rice is never fully dry. So possibly try 1 and 1/2 and add more if your rice dries out fast)
- 1 small can of tomato sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tbs olive oil.
- 1/2 slab of ham, cubed. This is traditionally what goes in my mom’s rice, add it at the beginning and cook with the rice.
- OR a chicken breast or two. [cooked, to add after the rice is done.]
1. Mix Everything together in a pot.
2. Bring to a boil. Then turn to low, cover, and simmer for at least 20-30 minutes. I’d recommend following the cook time for your rice and then checking for doneness when that time is up (for example, when I used brown basmati rice the cook time was for at least 40 minutes with the lid and then steamed for an additional ten minutes and it still needed some more time) So just go with your gut.
3. And that’s it! Easy peasy and it tastes delicious. Below are examples where I cooked it once with chicken and once with ham. You can also add cilantro, which I would add after the rice cooks.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving sides ever. It’s only beaten by stuffing.
This also works as a dish you can make year round! My family also eats it at all the other major holidays (such as Christmas)