There were so many times during the pandemic that I wished I was on a tropical island enjoying the sun and listening to the crashing waves. Instead, I was at home trying to keep myself inspired.
Finally, I decided to go to Puerto Rico... on my plate, that is. It was glorious. My menu included roast pork, rice and beans, and plantains.
The rice and beans that I made are called arroz con grandules. It translates to rice with pigeon peas. Don't worry. No pigeons were harmed in the making of this dish. Pigeon peas are popular in the Carribean and have a nutty flavor. You can find them canned and frozen in the Latin aisle of the grocery store and in Latin markets.
Sofrito is a staple ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking. Sofrito is a mix of onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro. The mixture is cooked with spices and pureed and added to dishes to add flavor and aromatics. It takes a dish from simple to great.
I used sofrito in both the pink beans that I made for my Puerto Rican menu and in my arroz con grandules.
One of my favorite parts of the dish was a slow cooked pork called pernil. It's slow cooked pork shoulder that is so tender, you don't need a knife to cut it. I found a slow cooker recipe for it that made it so easy to make. I can completely understand why pernil is on Puerto Rican menus for special occasions. This pork is very special.
To round out the dish I sautéed ripe plantains for a sweet treat. Plantains can also be a savory treat. Watch the video below for more ways that you can use plantains and easy recipes to try.
I was excited to try this traditional Puerto Rican meal. I've been trying to get to Puerto Rico for awhile. Once there was a change of plans and another time there was a devastating hurricane that tore through the island. I have good friends from Puerto Rico so making some of their traditional dishes also let me feel close to them while we couldn't visit each other during the pandemic.