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Arroz con gandules (Rice with pigeon peas)

April 28, 2010

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Serves 6

Pigeon peas or gandules are available at Latin American grocery stores, usually both dried and canned. Dried need to be soaked overnight, then simmered; canned, of course, are easier. Substitute black beans if necessary. Achiote (annatto) comes in a paste, as seeds, or sometimes as a ground powder. For this recipe, seeds are best, as they are easy to infuse with vegetable oil. Add 1 teaspoon of annatto seeds to the vegetable oil and cook over low heat for 10 minutes; strain. The seeds add color to the oil and give the rice a slightly peppery, cinnamony tang. You can buy pigeon peas and annatto at Hi-Lo Foods, 450 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-6364; Christina’s, 1255 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-576-2090; or go to www.latinmerchant.com.

4 strips bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil infused with achiote (annatto)
10 pimento-stuffed olives, halved
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/8 cups long-grain white rice
1 can (15 ounces) pigeon peas (with liquid from can)
1 1/2 cups water
1. In a large skillet, render the bacon until browned. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, and cilantro. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the vegetable oil, olives, and tomato paste. Stir well.

3. Add the rice, pigeon peas with their liquid, and let the mixture cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

4. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 18 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add more water to the pan during cooking, if necessary.

Adapted from Amelia Banchs