2000s Recipes + Menus

Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas

  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/4 hr
September 2007
Barely a day goes by at the Puerto Rican table without rice and beans making an appearance, but this version is pull-out-the-stops-special rather than everyday—you won’t believe how much flavor can be packed into such an understated dish. The secret is an abundantly seasoned sofrito—the flavor base—and the slight crust, called pegao, that forms on the bottom of the pot.

For Sofrito

  • 1 Cubanelle pepper (Italian frying pepper), seeded and chopped
  • 5 fresh ají dulce (small sweet chiles), halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 3 fresh recao leaves (culantro; see cooks’ note, below), chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped

For rice

  • 1 (1/4-lb) piece smoked ham, diced
  • 1/4 cup annatto oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 1 tablespoon drained bottled capers
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 (15-oz) can pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups water

Make Sofrito:

  • Purée all sofrito ingredients in a food processor.

Make rice:

  • Cut out a round of parchment or wax paper slightly larger than diameter of a wide 4- to 5-quart pot.
  • Pat ham dry and cook in annatto oil in pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until starting to crisp, about 4 minutes. Add sofrito, olives, and capers and cook, stirring, until liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until it sizzles, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in peas, water, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-high heat until almost all of liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes, reducing heat to medium once water is below level of rice.
  • Gently stir from bottom to top, then smooth top of rice. Place parchment round directly over rice and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and cook, undisturbed, 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, then discard parchment and gently fluff rice with a fork. Cover with lid and let stand 10 minutes.
Cooks’ notes:
  • If you can’t find recao, substitute an additional 1/4 cup cilantro.
  • Sofrito can be made ahead and chilled, covered, 3 days or frozen up to 1 month.
  • Rice can be made 1 day ahead and reheated in a microwave oven.
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