Puerto Rican Rice and Beans

Here is my official, tested recipe—affirmed to be “perfect” by my wife (of Puerto Rican heritage). The process has a number of steps, but it’s less complex than it looks.

Part I – Beans

  • Sort 1 pound dried small red beans (Habichuelas Rosadas Secas). These are hard to find, for some reason. If dried beans are unavailable, substitute two 15 ½ ounce cans of the same beans. Do not substitute another type of bean if you’re striving for the authentic effect.
  • Soak dried beans overnight in water to cover generously.

If you are using canned beans, proceed immediately to the next step.

  • Drain beans and place in 12 cup or larger pot. Add 8 cups water.
  • Add 1 large sweet potato, cut into pieces (small but not tiny—they will cook down).
  • Add 4 yellow potatoes, cut into pieces (same as the sweet potato).
  • Cut 8 oz salt pork into small pieces. Fry just until done. Add to pot with beans. You may substitute pork chops, but salt pork is better.
  • Heat to boiling and continue cooking over moderate heat for 1 hour, or until beans are almost tender.

Part II – Sofrito

While beans are cooking, prepare Sofrito as follows:

  • 1 medium Spanish onion, cut into large chunks.
  • 2 cubanelle peppers.
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled.
  • 2 large bunches cilantro, washed.
  • 5 ajices dulces (sweet chili peppers), seeded.
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks.
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks.
  • Chop the onion and cubanelle or peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth.

Part III – Complete

When the beans are almost tender, add Sofrito to the pot along with the following:

  • 16 oz Spanish style tomato sauce.
  • 2 ¾ teaspoons salt.
  • 2 packets (2 tbsp) Sazón Goya (con Culantro y Achiote).
  • 1 tbsp Adobo seasoning (sin Pimienta).
  • Mix and boil uncovered over moderate heat about 1 hour, or until cooked sauce thickens to taste.
  • Serve over cooked rice; use medium grain rice (it makes a difference).

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