It is safe to say that without arroz con gandules, Puerto Rican cuisine would be drastically different from what it is today. The tasty, latin rice has become a commonplace in all Puerto Rican households and restaurants, and is now considered the national dish of Puerto Rico along with Lechon or pig roast. For many Puerto Rican families, including my own, the holidays and family gatherings just wouldn’t the same without servings of arroz con gandules, but the dish doesn’t have to be saved for special occasions. Amy Seponara of We Are Never Full describes the arroz con gandules as,”the dish that will most often be made for the Christmas dinner table and after one taste, you will see why” . Many families cook the rice very often because it can be served with a wide variety of other foods. And some families will even cook arroz con gandules on a daily basis.
The Puerto Rican rice can also be praised for its versatility. You can cook it with chicken to make arroz con pollo, or with sausage to make arroz con salchichas. Gale Davis of Hungry Vegan praised a vegan style of the dish calling it a “Puerto Rican Feast”. The sazon and sofrito, two of the most popular bases in many Latin American cuisines, are what give the rice its distinct flavor allow it to be mixed with other ingredients to create a wide variety of combinations. And as stated before, it can be served along with a wide variety of different entrees in order to add that unique, Puerto Rican flavor to any meal.
If you go to a Puerto Rican home, it is almost guaranteed that arroz con gandules will be served alongside with whatever meal has been made. And if you travel to a variety of Puerto Rican homes and restaurants, you will undoubtedly encounter many new unique variations of the rice. Many people have taken the recipe for arroz con gandules and tweaked the ingredients in order to find the perfect combination that suits their tastes. Many will decide to add an additional packet of sazon or additional sofrito. They also may decide whether or not to make some of the ingredients completely from scratch in order to fully customize the taste, as is done in my family’s household. But wherever you go, you will always find the rice will contain that certain taste leaves people begging for more, and that gave arroz con gandules the position of Puerto Rico’s national dish.
Now that I know more about the dish, I will finally attempt to cook Arroz Con Gandules using this recipe.