I have a friend at work named Millie. She and I have this sort of informal food exchange at lunchtime. If I'm bringing leftovers in for lunch, I usually pack enough for her, too. And when she's got leftovers for lunch, she usually packs enough for me. Sometimes I think I'm getting a much better deal than she is, because I will tell you this: Millie is an amazing cook.
One of the absolutely incredible things she makes is Arroz con Gandules - Rice with Pigeon Peas. It is so delicious that if I had to choose a last meal, it would be a plate of Millie's Arroz con Glndules, because then I could die with a smile on my face. Seriously, I could eat that stuff every damn day. But, of course, she won't make it for me every day so I had to learn how to do it for myself.
She cooks like I do - "some of this, some of that" so the "recipe" she gave me was a little sketchy, but I managed to get a fairly good grip on it and got the ingredients down to a proportion that winds up tasting really good. Not as good as Millie's, mind you, but as close as I think I'm going to get.
Millie Gonzalez's Arroz con GandulesAbout 12 servings7 ounces (half of a small tub) Goya frozen sofrito¼ cup oil (Millie uses corn oil, I prefer olive oil)1 14-ounce bag of frozen pigeon peas (gandules) OR 1 15-ounce can of them, drainedLeftover meat, diced (whatever you have on hand)8 ounces (1 small can) tomato sauce7 cups water4 packets Sazon GoyaPimiento-stuffed green Manzanilla olives (optional)1 pound long-grain rice (about 4 cups)
Sofrito and oil simmering in the
pan. There are no words to describe how awesome this smells.In a large Dutch oven, combine the sofrito and oil over medium heat. Heat until the mixture is bubbling and sizzling. Add the pigeon peas and meat and olives if you care to use them and saute over very low heat until the meat is heated through.Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and Sazon Goya into the pot. Taste the broth and adjust the season accordingly.Thoroughly stir in the rice, cover tightly, and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is done and has absorbed the liquid. Serve it up hot.A note about meat for this dish: Use anything you've got left over. Ham is traditional, but leftover pork chops or chicken are great, too. For extra flavor I usually dice up a couple of chorizo sausages to throw in.