How to Make Puerto Rican Rice

There comes a moment in life when you deeply appreciate a past chapter. It`s a time when your senses transport you back, allowing you to relive the sights, sounds, and aromas of childhood. In my early years, nothing delighted me more than my grandmother`s cooking. The tantalizing scent emanating from her kitchen could make anyone`s mouth water, and I was no exception. I fondly recall the joy of sneaking into her kitchen to witness her culinary magic, hoping for a sneak preview of her next creation. As I matured, my desire to not only taste her dishes but also learn her kitchen secrets grew.

During my teenage years, my eagerness to learn my grandmother`s recipes waned—not because I enjoyed her food any less, but because typical teenage distractions consumed my attention. Despite my burgeoning appetite, I wasn`t allowed to devour all her creations single-handedly.

Throughout my college years, I often sought her guidance on recreating my favorite dishes. One day, I yearned to master her delicious Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas, a quintessential dish in our culture. To embark on this culinary journey, I ensured I had all the necessary ingredients and utensils at hand.

To craft the perfect rice, you need the perfect vessel. In our tradition, we rely on a caldero or cauldron. The process begins by heating oil over medium heat and crisping up chopped bacon, ham, or tocino (fat back). Once cooked, set aside the meat. Now, it`s time to create the sofrito, the foundation of Puerto Rican cuisine. Sauté chopped onions, green and red peppers, cilantro, and minced garlic until tender, approximately three minutes. Next, add half a cup of tomato sauce and let it simmer for a couple more minutes before incorporating the pigeon peas and reserved meat. Add water and season to taste with adobo and annatto for that characteristic reddish hue. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the rice, ensuring the liquid covers the rice by one and a half inches. Let it boil until the water evaporates, then cover and simmer on low for approximately thirty-five minutes. The rice should be tender but not sticky. Avoid stirring the rice once it starts cooking to prevent stickiness.

Following my grandmother`s guidance on crafting Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas, I savored every bite of my delectable creation, eagerly anticipating my next culinary lesson with her.