Gandules y Pernil

View from Dad's Room Ciales P.R. 2019
View from Dad's Room Ciales P.R. 2019

I created Recetas de Mi Isla ( Recipe Book) first as an ode to the old Jibaro hymnes, songs and recipes I remember hearing my whole childhood. I ended up making so many more recipes that the whole book turned out to be full of the recipes that made me fall in love with Puerto Rico. So in turn, the Jibaro hymn I wanted to exude, after all.

The only memories I have are those stories. The way the whole pork use to be cured with salt over a slow burning Fogon which means that it would take time to cook and preserve for the family at the same time. The Jibaro way. Bringing big pots down to the Fogon every day to make the add in's of Arroz ( rice), Habichuelas ( beans), Viandas ( root veggies) or Arroz Con Gandules.

Gandules (Pigeon Peas) we've grown in our Finca ( Island Farm) since my father was a child. We grew them in New York on a window sill, we grew them in California in a tiny patch of land we had outside our 2 bedroom home once upon a time. Gandules bright green in their pods or wait a few more weeks till they brown. Either way, Arroz Con Gandules. So what does Arroz con Gandules entail? 

Gandules, sofrito, adobo, aceite, arroz, pasta de tomate, aceitunas,pimenton rojo y OJO.

Sofrito: Traditonal pepper and herb aromatics at the base of warm meals.

First of all. If you ever put tomatoes or water in your Sofrito we cannot be friends. That's not traditional and as a direct descendant and apprentice of an Island Taino/Jibaro we frown at you. Sofrito came to the Island from the Spaniards loosely translated it means to " Sofreir" ( Stir Fry). The recipe can be found in page 1 of Recetas de MI Isla. The goal of sofrito is for you to cook up those aromatics. Then add your beans, rice, or rice & beans or better yet "Guisao" (stew) ingredients. For me, this is the best part of Arroz con Gandules the house permiates amazing smells and this is when we add our Island "Mirepoix" sofrito, aceitunas & tomato paste. Holy SHIT your home is going to smell amazing. Plus your gonna have enough sofrito for a few surprise dinner dates with your lover who didn't even know you cooked... so well. We continue onto our spice blend which we add subsequent to the sofrito, I like to cook my spices a bit before I add all the other ingredients. Which fills the home with delicious smells of oregano & cumin. THE BASE. ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR NOW. Because guess what? The perfect grain of rice and the perfect Arroz con Gandules will not happen on the first try. I guarantee you'll get it but mostly it has to do with OJO. What is OJO? It means your gonna so used to making the rice that your gonna know how to make it just by looking at it.

Now for the PERNIL. The pork also came to Islands from the Spaniards as well BUT technique is 100 percent Taino. Agria china a bitter orange that will a soften and sweeten meat baby you'll never try another again. Next, un Pillon ( wood mortal and pestle), fresh garlic, vinagre, adobo, aceite verde, recao y mucho amor Coño. The way we always started in the kitchen, mashing away in the pillon. I always needed a little help to open up those cloves from dad as my arms still hurt to this day from all the mashing. Adding oil as you go and creating a delicious paste. This paste you will end up using for chicken, vegetables, steak, seafood, sauces etc. Mix that up with your agria china and other ingredients and slather away. Does anyone other than Puerto Ricans and Italians still eat pork? I do not promote being unhealthy but I do promote following traditions. So getting that crispy skin is imperative. See you on the other side of this. It better be juicy...

Recao in the Finca Ciales P.R. 2019

Do not forget your Recao ( Culantro or Saw toothed green). The aromatic of my life. Growing like grass in our Finca. Its the most wonderful herb to A smell so sweet, fresher and more citrus then Cilantro it's a great addition to your herb mix.

Now, go on try to make some Ajocito (arrocito), tell me how it goes, share your memories with me. I want to connect with all of you. What is your last memory of gandules and pernil?

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