This recipe starts with fresh pigeon peas and I am translating it from Spanish. It comes from an old cookbook, originally published in 1954 called "Cocina Criolla" by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli who was born in 1912. So I suppose she would know Puerto Rican cooking if anyone does!
- 1 lb pigeon peas, picked over and rinsed clean (fresh gandules)
- 10 cups water, divided
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1⁄2 ounce bacon, minced
- 1 ounce ham, minced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 aji bell peppers, seeded and minced (small sweet pepper that resembles an habanero)
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 medium tomato, minced
- 3 stems culantro, minced
- 3 fresh cilantro stems, minced
- 3 tablespoons achiote oil (Achiote Oil)
- 1⁄4 cup tomato sauce
- 3 pimento stuffed olives
- 1⁄2 teaspoon capers
- 2 1⁄4 cups long grain white rice
- Soak pigeon peas overnight in 6 cups of water; drain and discard water.
- In a large, covered pot, combine peas with 4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 30 minutes.
- Season with salt and cook 15 minutes more; drain, reserving 3 cups of the cooking liquid (you may need to add more water to end up with the 3 cups).
- Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, lightly brown the bacon and ham; add in the remaining sofrito ingredients and saute, over low heat until all the ingredients are tender and the tomatoes break down.
- Stir in the additional ingredients and combine well; stir in the peas and rice.
- Add the 3 cups of reserved cooking liquid and let cook, uncovered, until almost dry (it will look like little volcanos are erupting); stir up the rice from the bottom.
- Cover and turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let cook 30 minutes, turning the rice, from the bottom, once halfway through cooking.
- NOTE: This is how the dish is supposed to be cooked. I prefer to add the olives after the last turning of the rice for a "cleaner" flavor.