Puerto Rican Pigeon Pea Rice & Pork/Arroz con Gandules y Puerco

Juliann Esquivel Recipe

By Juliann Esquivel Juliann

a bunch
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Stove Top

This recipe is delicious. It was given to me by my dear friend Anna's mother. They are from Ponce, Puerto Rico. It is the national dish of Puerto Rico. Arroz con Gandules. I love Puerto Rican food and over the years have acquired many recipes from dear friends from Puerto Rico. If you get a chance try it. I assure you it is wonderful. Served with a salad and perhaps some Fried plantains or tostones it is a complete meal as it has the meat already in it. You can find my recipes for fried plantains and tostones posted. Be sure to make with pork loin as it is very tender and reduces the cook time for this great dish. Enjoy


1 1/2 lb
pork loin, cut in bite size pieces, be sure to buy pok loin
1/2 large
sweet onion such as vidalia diced
1/2 large
sweet bell pepper diced
4 clove
fresh garlic smashed or put through a garlic press
1 c
canola oil or lard
1/4 c
good white table wine, not cooking wine
1 can(s)
small can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/4 c
diced culantro or cilantro (culantro is a long wide leaf with a hearty aroma like cilantro
1/2 tsp
oregano, dried
1 Tbsp
achiote/annato seeds or ground annato powder
1 Tbsp
1/4 tsp
ground black pepper
2 c
long grain white rice or jasmin rice
2 1/2 c
chicken broth if available or water
1 small
packet goya sazon seasonig with culantro and achiote
1 can(s)
pigeon peas strained of all liquid
1/2 tsp
garlic powder to season pork meat

Directions Step-By-Step

Over a low flame first take the cup of the oil, add the annato seeds or achiote seeds and heat until just shimmering. Be careful not to use a high flame as the seeds will burn easly. The oil will turn a bright orange color as the seeds give up their color and flavor. Shut off the flame and strain the seeds from the oil. Discard the seeds. If you cant find annato or achiote seeds use ground annato or achiote powder, pour a tablespoon into the oil and slowly heat until the oil turns a bright orange color. Next strain oil in a lined wire mesh strainer fitted with a large coffee filter. Set the strainer over a pot or bowl and pour the oil into the filter little by little. With a spoon I move the annato or achiote powder all around to let the oil pass through the filter. When done discard the filter and keep the oil in a covered container to cook and flavor Latino dishes. Achiote or annato flavored oil is used alot in Puerto Rican and Mexican recipes. You can also use a clean cheese cloth, to strain seed or annato powder from the oil.
Have your pork loin pieces at room temperature. Season the meat with garlic powder, salt, black pepper and a little oregano. In a heavy skillet add about a 1/4 cup of the annato or achiote flavored oil when hot (not to hot) add the meat and sear lightly on all sides. When the meat is browned all over remove from the pot with a slotted spoon into another dish.
In the same pot you seared your meat add diced onion, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro or culantro and a little more flavored annato oil. Saute until the veggies are limp next add the wine, seasonings, oregano, salt pepper, goya Sazon packet and tomato sauce. Continue to saute. Then add one can of pigeon peas, drained of all the liquid and continue to saute for about another minute. Now return the meat to the pot add one cup of broth or water and stir well to incorporate everything and bring up the heat to medium high
Next rinse your rice in cool water twice to remove excess starch strain all the water and pour into the meat mixture. Add the remaining broth or water stir well. Taste the cooking liquid to see if there is enough seasonings, salt. Cover with a tight lid lower the flame to simmer and cook rice for 30 to 40 minutes. When time has elapsed, uncover fluff with a fork and serve. Enjoy
Note: In Mexico annato seeds are kept in a container and hot lard is poured over them. When cooks are going to prepare their meals the lard is melted down and the strained lard is poured right into a fry pan or pot. Annato flavored oil is kept already prepared for cooking.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Rice Sides, Pork
Main Ingredient: Beans/Legumes
Regional Style: Puerto Rican

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Toni T Toni6921
Jul 28, 2013
Juliann, I have used Chef Daisy's Sofrito in Indian recipes, too. The flavor profile complements Indian curries and takes them to another level.
Juliann Esquivel Juliann
Jul 27, 2013
Hi Toni so glad you like my recipe. Great idea using the pork neckbones. They will add additional flavor to the gandules and rice. i like Chef Daisy Martinez, and yes I too make and store sofrito in batches. It is such a time saver to have the sofrito already to use when making these delicious recipes. Saves time on all the chopping and dicing of the veggies and culantro.

I also do the same thing when ever there is a special at the Sedanos Latin Supermarket the often run .59 or .69 cent specials I do the same stock up on pork shoulder and store in my freezer. I am all for making my dollars stretch. I am constantly on the lookout for the supermarket specials. Thank you for the compliment. Good luck in the kitchen. LOL
Toni T Toni6921
Jul 27, 2013
Juliann, I love your recipe with pork. I am going to use your recipe using meaty pork neck bones. I love meat on the bone, so I know this dish will taste wonderful. I like Chef Daisy Martinez recipe for "Sofrito" which I make in large batches. I freeze it in 1/4 cup servings and store it in zip lock bags.

I love your recipe for Pernil. A new store had a grand opening this week, and one of their promotions is pork shoulder for $.59 cents a pound. I purchased one and I'll get another one this weekend. You're a great cook, Juliann, and thank you so much for sharing your recipes.
Juliann Esquivel Juliann
Jun 25, 2013
Hi Tabitha I am glad you like my recipe. I can certainly agree with you that everyone has their own way of making an authentice dish. My friend Ana and her mother are from Ponce, Puerto Rico. Ana told me that this recipe varies from different part of Puerto Rico. I have heard from another friend of mine Gloria, who is from San Juan that they do not use tomato sauce in their Pigeon peas and also that they use more culantro large leaf instead of cilantro. They call it recao. So yes it's true an authentic recipe can have it's variations according to which part of the island it originated from. Final word I have tasted various pigeon peas and rice dishes from different friends from Puerto Rico and they have all been so delicious even though they were mmade different from the other. I am sure your recipe is s good as any that I have tasted. Good luck in the kitchen. LOL
Tabatha Bucci tbucci
Jun 25, 2013
I have looked up other recipes for this and they have said 1/4 oil to 2 Tbsps of Annato seeds. And, they have also said that you could use salt pork, but I prefer to use 2 oz of smoked pork belly. I don't use wine or sazon either according to the recipe. When I was looking up it to me to a Puerto Rican Recipes. I like your recipe, but there is so much that is so different. And, my adopted Puerto Rican mother does her rice like I do mine, but she leaves out the tomato Sauce.