Welcome to Episode 5 of Part 3 of the Dining Traveler Cooking Series, where we try recipes from our favorite destinations at home. This time we shot at La Cosecha, a contemporary Latin American market in Washington, DC. This edition is dedicated to one of my favorite destinations – Puerto Rico.

This recipe is adapted from my mother’s arroz con gandules recipe. Nothing says home more than walking into my parent’s house and smelling the salchichón cooking in the caldero. Although arroz con gandules is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe, I find it a crowd-pleaser. My husband, who is from Holland, LOVES arroz con gandules.

The recipe is simple to make and I love that you can feed a big crowd at a relatively low food cost. I like to add salchichón (sausage) or pork belly for that extra flavor, but you can also omit those ingredients to make it vegan. Either way, it is a crowd-pleaser. This dish is one of the most traditional Puerto Rican dishes, and every family has a unique way of making it. Let me know how you make it in the comments.

Arroz con Gandules
Serves 20 or 10 if you have a 6’9″ husband.

3 Cups White Rice
2-3 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 Cup of Chopped Salchichón or pork belly
3/4 Cup Sofrito
1/2 Spanish Style Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup Pitted Spanish-Style Olives
2 12 oz Cans of Gandules
2 Tbsp of Achiote (Annatto Seed) Oil
1 Tbsp Sazón
1 Tbsp Adobo
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Optional: Banana Leaf

Special Equipment: Caldero or Heavy Weight Iron Pan with Cover https://amzn.to/3qMMkKs
Mesh Sieve: https://amzn.to/39WbNet

Heat Oil in Caldero
While the oil heats, rinse the rice in a mesh colander with cold water, set aside
Add salchichón to the oil and cook for a few minutes. Add sofrito, sauce, and gandules, achiote oil, and spices.
Let it cook for 5 minutes until the flavors come together.
Add rice, stir, add enough water that it covers the rice around one inch. Probably around 5-6 cups.
Stir and cook in medium heat until the rice absorbs the water, around 10-15 minutes.
Once the water is absorbed, stir the rice again and cover.
In the words of my mom, “LEAVE THE RICE ALONE”. Let it cook for around 20 minutes, uncover, and stir it. If it feels too dry, add a little more water.
Lower the rice to medium-low heat.
It should take another 10 minutes to cook.
Optional: add a clean banana leaf for the last minutes of steaming for a little “pastel” flavor.

Detailed Instructions on Video

Thanks to my compatriota Pedro of Grand Cata for stopping by and sharing his wine recommendations for not only the arroz but other Puerto Rican dishes.

Thank you to PenFed Credit Union for making this video happen! PenFed has been here for the community for 85 years and they do amazing things for the veteran community, which I am a proud member of. Check out PenFed.org as they have:
-Great rates for everyone
-Membership is open to everyone. (I’m a member!)
-They offer Loans, Deposit Accounts, Mortgages, and Credit Cards