How to Make Puerto Rican Rice

There is a time in your life when you realize how significant a former stage in your life was. It is a time when all your senses go way back and you can actually feel, hear and smell the same things you did when you were a child. During my childhood years there was no better pleasure than my grandmothers cooking. The smell of her food would make anyone near the house drool, and I was no exception. I still remember the feeling of joy as I went into her kitchen to watch her prepare dinner, hoping I could get an advance taste of whatever it was she was going to treat us with. As I grew older, not only did I wanted to try her food but also wanted to learn a little of what I liked to think about as her kitchen magic.

When I entered my teenage years my desire to learn how to cook my grandmas recipes decreased, not because I liked her food less but because I was busy thinking and acting like a teenager. As a matter of fact, like with every teenage boy my appetite increased so much that I could eat all she cooked by myself, but she didnt allow me to do it.

During my years of college I often called her to ask her how to prepare some of my favorites dishes. One day I wanted to know how to make her delicious Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas. This is a traditional Puerto Rican dish with one of our favorite beans. To get started I needed to make sure I had all the ingredients and utensils available.

To make perfect rice you need the perfect pot. In our culture, we use a caldero or cauldron. The first step is to heat some oil over medium heat and cook chopped bacon, ham, or tocino (fat back) until crispy. Remove the cooked meat and save it. Now youre ready to make your sofrito which is the base of all Puerto Rican dishes. Start with chopped onion, green and red peppers, cilantro and some minced garlic, fry them around three minutes or until tender. When this is ready, add half a cup of tomato sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes, stir in pigeon peas and the saved meat. Its time to add some water and season to taste using some adobo and some annatto to add that reddish color that characterizes our food. Bring this to a boil and add rice, the liquid should be enough to cover the rice one and a half inches above the rice line. Let it boil on high until water evaporates. Cover and simmer on low for about thirty-five minutes. Rice should be tender but not sticky. To avoid this, dont use too much liquid or stir rice after it has begun cooking.

After following all my grandmas instructions on how to make Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas, I was ready to enjoy my succulent dish and could not wait until the next time I needed to call her to get a new recipe.