For Arroz Con Gandules
2 cups short grain rice (rinsed) - long grain will work too
3 cups of hot water - appx.
*1/2 cup ready made sofrito
16 ounce can of gandules (cooked green pigeon peas)
2 tablespoons of alcaparrado (cappers and olives mixed together - if not available improvise)
1 packet of Sazon with achiote - optional
1 can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons of oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste - only use if your sofrito does not have pepper.
5 lbs. pork shoulder - picnic cut (with fat)
7 garlic cloves (You may use powder garlic or ground garlic sold in glass jars - 1 tsp. equals one clove.)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 sm packet Sazon Goya
*Sofrito is a combination of Garlic, Green & red peppers & onions blended together
Arroz con Gandules Preparation
In a medium size caldero(pan) add the oil, tomato sauce, alcaparrado, sofrito and sazon.
Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes.
Add all other ingredients, and enough water so the rice is submerge one inch below the liquid. Start with 1 teaspoon of salt stir and keep adding and mixing well until you are
satisfied with the taste. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until most of the water is absorbed.
Once the water has been absorbed, stir gently from bottom to top - once or twice only, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Stirring the rice after it has begun cooking may cause it go get sticky or "amogollao."
Any rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot is called "pegao" and is crispy and tasty and a favorite of all true Puerto Ricans. However, not everyone is skilled is making pegao - it is an art. To make great pegao make sure to use plenty of oil. Cook for about 15 minutes longer so the pegao gets crispy. Each time you cook rice - check to see how long it takes to make pegao just the way your family likes it. Finally - if you want a lot of pegao - use a bigger caldero which, of course, will have a larger bottom surface.
Note: You must season the meat one day ahead and refrigerate
Crush the garlic in a pilon. If you don't have a pilon (shame on you!) crush the whole garlic with the side of a wide knife then dice the pieces. In a small bowl mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, Sazon, and olive oil. Mix well.
Wash the meat and pat dry.
With a sharp knife cut the fat away from the meat keeping it all in one piece. Start at the wide end and go to the narrow end. You don't have to separate it completely - just leave enough still conected so that you can flip the fat over to the side while you season the meat itself. The fat will be placed over the seasoned meat and will cook over the meat giving it more flavor. Season the side of the fat that goes over the meat with a bit of the seasoning also - just that one side. The other side - the top - should only have salt.
Make very deep slits all over the meat and season the meat making sure that seasoning goes into all the slits. Put the fat back over the meat to look the same as before it was cut and sprinkle it with salt.
Refrigerate the shoulder, covered with plastic wrap, for 24 hours.
Let the meat get back into room temperature before cooking. (About one hour).
Place the meat in a deep pan with the fat side up. There will be a lot of grease so be sure to use a deep pan that is at least 2" deep. The fat side up will make nice crunchy "cueritos." Do NOT cover with foil.
Preheat the over for at least 30 minutes before placing the meat inside. Cook in a 400-F oven for one hour, then reduce temperature to 300-F for about 4 hours or so - DO NOT TURN MEAT.
When the meat is done, you can prick it on the side with a fork to see if it shreds. If the "cuerito is not crispy enough for your satisfaction, then leave it in the oven and raise the temperature again to 400º and cook another 15 minutes or so until it is crispy. It will crisp fast so keep your eye on it.
Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest on the counter for about 20-30 minutes before carving.
To carve, remove the cuerito completely and set aside. Carve the meat and then cut the cuerito into pieces and place over the meat. If you're going to take this to a party put it in an oven-safe container and put it back in a 200º to keep it warm, DON'T COVER IT because the crispy cueritos will get soft if you do.
Tips . . .
If using a meat thermometer, it will be ready when it reaches 185-F.
If the picnic cut is not available just buy a pork shoulder - it won't have the fat and you won't get any cueritos - but it will be delicious.