See the Happy

Puerto Rican Rice {Pigeon Peas with Ham}

***My sisters and I are pleased to have guest writer Mei-Ling here on The Kusi Life, sharing what the secret ingredient to cooking is, and a favorite family recipe in our “See the Happy” Series.

Honoring the meaning of this blog’s name, I want to share something that makes me extremely HAPPY: cooking!  I believe preparing and making food for your loved ones is a special way to get to their hearts (not just their tummies).  I learned to cook watching my mom (and sometimes my dad) when I was a young girl growing up in my native Puerto Rico.  

I’ve always believed that the best way to learn is by paying attention to how others do things.  Although my mom never really told me how to make specific dishes, I remember just paying attention to how she put together her day-to-day dishes.  When I went to live on my own at the age of 16 (leaving my family behind in Puerto Rico), I was “forced” to practice what I had “learned”.  I began making simple dishes from memory (mainly rices).  You see, rice is the main dish in Puerto Rican cuisine.  We eat rice with everything and have mastered to prepare it in many different ways (just like many other cultures do).  We mainly make savory dishes with rice can also make some serious rice desserts (like arroz con dulce – a coconut sweet rice eaten mostly during Christmas and the holidays).

Today I’m sharing my recipe for “Arroz con gandules” (spelled “gandures” in some places) or “Rice with pigeon peas” (funny name, right? – No, there are no pigeons involved).  Pigeon peas are a tropical pea-like seed from the legume family.  They are rich in potassium, protein, and fiber and are delicious if you ask me.  They may look like green peas but they are different in texture and taste.  Although Puerto Ricans eat this “arroz con gandules” all year-round, for the most part, this is seeing as a holiday dish.  

My friends and family love when I make it.  Because I no longer cook for my family on a daily basis (we are separated by distance), when we get together for any special occasion, I get requests to make my Puerto Rican dishes.  Arroz con gandules is front and center during Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  As I share my recipe with the readers of The Kusi Life, I want to let you in on a secret: no matter what you make or which recipes you try, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS let LOVE be the main ingredient.  As I throw ingredients in a pot I think of how happy my loved ones will be as they taste the dish (dishes) I’m making.  If you’re a beginner in the kitchen know that you should never take to the kitchen in a bad mood or if you’re feeling sick or sad.  I mean, we all go through things, right? But, if you’re in a particular mood (I believe) it will show in your cooking.  Always cook (or bake or do anything/everything) from a place of love and you will taste the difference.

Puerto Rican Rice - Pigeon Peas and Ham thekusilife.com

Mei-Ling was born and raised in Puerto Rico, is a mother of 2 young adults and grandma to a 10-month-old baby boy.  Her heart is in Colorado while working in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She loves Bible journaling, art, architecture, interior design, music, photography, and cooking, of course. You can follow along on Instagram and get some uplifting quotes at @mei_motivations, and @lovesthebibleandart to be inspired by her bible journaling. 
See the Happy!
Puerto Rican Rice - Pigeon Peas and Ham thekusilife.com
Puerto Rican Rice - Pigeon Peas and Ham thekusilife.com
Puerto Rican Rice {Pigeon Peas with Ham}
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Puerto Rican Rice - Pigeon Peas and Ham thekusilife.com
Puerto Rican Rice {Pigeon Peas with Ham}
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Wash the rice in a colander and set aside. (This removes all the extra starch from the rice, you don't want to skip this step!)
  2. Place sofrito, oil, tomato sauce and salt in the pot. Let it sautee for a few minutes and then add the ham and pigeon peas (the whole can, adding the water as well as peas).
  3. Place the water in the pot and add the packet of Sazón (at this point you can also add the olives if you wish). Cover the pot and let the ingredients boil in the water.
  4. When the water boils, put in the rice and stir it all around so that it mixes. DO NOT COVER THE POT YET. I usually set my gas stove on high until the water boils and then when I put in the rice, I lower it to 5 until the water dries, meaning that you won’t see it covering the rice but right at the same level. This doesn’t take very long (maybe 5 minutes but keep an eye on it)…
  5. At that point stir the rice again, LOWER the heat to 3 and cover the pot. Let the rice cook for about 15 minutes and then uncover (let the steamy water from the cover fall over the rice), stir and cover again and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. The rice should be fully cooked, soft but not overdone but NEVER al-dente. Remember, the secret to the perfect rice (in my eyes) is NOT stirring it too many times. A total of 3 times is plenty. Also uncovering and covering it too much also affects the cooking. Enjoy!
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6 thoughts on “Puerto Rican Rice {Pigeon Peas with Ham}

  1. Kay

    Yum! I will have to try this! We love to try new things! I think cooking for the ones you love is definitely a way of bringing families closer together, and showing your love.

    1. Kirsten Post author

      This has been such a great recipe to have this last week! My family is in heaven! Cooking is such a great way to show your love and make memories! Thanks for reading Kay!

    1. Kirsten Post author

      Mei-Ling told me that this recipe is perfect for really anything you would like to add. My husband is from Ecuador and they have a similar rice they call “arroz rey lleno” (stuffed rice) that is a similar base, and then you add whatever you like – chicken, hot dogs, bacon, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, corn, black beans, red or green pepper, shredded carrot – really whatever your heart desires. If you are not a fan of pigeon peas or don’t have any on hand, it will still taste amazing! Enjoy! This is such a delicious recipe!

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