We used freshly made recaito and a variety of familiar, pungent spices as the sazon or seasoning in this traditional Puerto Rican dish. You can substitute 2 packets of Sazon GOYA with Coriander and Annatto, a commercial product, for the spices, if you’d like. This product can be found in the ethnic section of most large supermarkets or at Hispanic markets.
Yield: 5 main-dish servings
- 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup cubed ham
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh, frozen, or jarred recaito
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) can green pigeon peas, undrained
- 2 cups medium-grain rice
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup olives stuffed with pimientos, sliced (optional)
- Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ham, and cook until ham begins to turn brown. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, garlic, and green pepper, and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add recaito and next 8 ingredients; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add tomato sauce and peas; bring mixture to a boil. Add rice and water, stirring well. Return mixture to a boil; cover tightly, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes. (Do not remove lid during cook time.) Remove from heat. Gently fluff rice mixture with a fork. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes.
To serve, spoon rice mixture onto serving plates, and garnish with sliced olives and fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.