Arroz con gandules is a combination of rice, pigeon peas and pork, cooked in the same pot with Puerto Rican-style sofrito. This is the signature dish of Puerto Rican culture and also has become very popular throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Arroz con gandules is part of Puerto Rico's national dish along with roast pork.
This dish is mainly served around holidays and special occasions. The sofrito is the most important part of seasoning the rice and is usually prepared a day before. The annatto oil (olive oil that has been infused with annatto seeds) is also prepared a day before and usually left out. Annatto is what gives arroz con gandules its distinctive yellow color. The day of cooking the first step is cooking the pigeon peas. The annatto oil is then heated in a separate rice pot. Once the oil is hot, meat is added such as salchichón (Puerto Rican salami), smoked ham hock, pork, or smoked turkey. Ham, bacon, or chorizo can also be substituted. Sofrito is then added and cooked for about 5 minutes stirring time to time. Olives, capers, and bay leaves are then added and cooked for an additional minute. Rice, pigeon peas, salt, black pepper, coriander seeds, cumin, and possibly orégano brujo are then added and stirred until every grain of rice is coated with sofrito. Stock is then poured into the pot and cooked on high heat then lowered once a boil starts and covered with a plantain leaf and lid.