Rice and beans, beans and rice, plantains, mofongo, and sancocho! I love them all and to me this is comfort food. Trips to Costa Rica and Puerto Rico must have been on my mind when I decided to try this recipe. It may look daunting because of the preparation of the sofrito but once you have that done, the rest will come together easily. Sofrito or sazón is a sauce used as a base for certain dishes such as beans, rice, and stew. Sofrito can be made in many ways as different cuisines [Spanish, Dominican, Puerto Rican] call for their own sauce. This is fun. Grab a food processor and an ice tray and all of the below and get ready to sauce things up!
I did not have culantro so I used a bunch of cilantro. 2 tbsp oregano (I used Mexican), 1/2 cup of olives stuffed with pimentos, 1 tbsp capers, 1 pepper, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 or 3 roasted red peppers and 2 tbsp of pimentos (sweet chili peppers). Olive oil, salt and pepper. The recipe calls for different quantities of some of the ingredients so follow the recipe by all means!
In go the roughly chopped cilantro, pepper, onion, garlic, and roasted red pepper. Throw in the pimentos and capers.
Chop up some olives and crush some oregano and puree away!
Looks good, right? Now fill your ice try.
All done! Now stick it in the freezer. Set aside what you need (I used 3 cubes which is equal to 3 tbsp) and freeze the rest. Once it is frozen enough so that you don’t destroy it as you take it out, remove from the tray and put in a zip-lock bag. Ready made sofrito for the next dish 🙂 This was a great learning experience for me as I don’t freeze sauces or herbs.
Sofrito recipe taken from The Noshery.
Now we can start cooking up a storm!
I used 3 cubes of sofrito from the freezer (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup), 4 cups of medium grain rice (rinsed), 1 15 oz can of pigeon peas (drained), 1 cup tomato sauce (I did not have so I used crushed tomatoes), 8 olives, halved, 1 tbsp of capers, and 4 strips of uncured bacon (chopped). I also added a bit of tomato paste. You will need 5 cups of water.
Cook the bacon until it is nice and crispy. Set aside. Do not throw out the awesome bacon drippings! It is a crime and I shall never forgive you!
Add the sofrito to the wonderful drippings and cook for 3-5 minutes.
Add the rice and cook for 5 minutes and stir occasionally. Then add the olives, tomato sauce, and capers, and pigeon peas. I added a few squirts of tomato paste. Why? I don’t know. There is something about tomato paste that I feel I must squirt a bit of every time I use anything tomato based. I can see all the great chefs scowling down (I say ‘down’ because I am 5 foot) at me for this and raising their arms up in despair. No matter. As long as I am content 😉
Give it a good mix, pour in the water and mix again. Bring to a boil until water evaporates and put a lid on it!
Before the lid though, please cover the pot with aluminium foil (Sadly, I did not have a banana leaf so foil it was). Simmer for 35 minutes. I think I was drooling at this point 😉
Peel the ripe plantains and cut into circles. Fry in a little bit of oil until nice and brown.
Such a tasty, colorful dish. I always have to add a bit of sour cream to my plate.
Oh, the memories are coming back 🙂 I am transporting myself to the lush, green, beautifully preserved rain forest. I can hear the birds singing and see them flying over the exotic plants and flowers. Make this now because it’s too great a dish to forget!
Pigeon peas and rice recipe slightly adapted and taken from The Noshery.