Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fiesta Fare - Arroz con Garbanzos

I was looking for a fun Mexican dish to offer up just in time for Cinco de Mayo when I was sidetracked by a friend. We started talking about food and our favorite dishes and as he described a dish made by his mother I knew I'd have to take this week's blog a bit further afield by trying the very traditional Puerto Rican dish Arroz con Garbanzos. 

Arroz con Garbanzos is a hearty rice and chickpea dish with layers of flavor. It does mean making the rice from scratch but the flavor that develops as you build the dish is fantastic.

Before I dive into how to make this there is one thing I should address. The starting point, and the component that really is the star of this dish, is Sofrito. Sofrito is a combination of aromatic ingredients which have been diced and braised in cooking oil to release their flavor and develop a unique multi pourpose base used in everything from rice and meats to soups throughout the Carribian.You can purchase a version of Sofrito made by Goya in the international aisle of many larger grocery stores but it is not nearly as good as homemade. If you choose to buy it I suggest the Cilantro base instead of the one labled Sofrito because it has a brighter flavor. I used homemade Sofrito given to me by my friend and in the future I will defenitly make my own rather than buy it.  Also, from the photos you will note I have included a portion of seasoned meat which is a delightful accompaniment for this dish and full of even more flavor. First things first though, Arroz con Garbanzos!

Arroz con Garbanzos

1 Tbsp Sofrito
3oz (1/2 of a 6oz can) Tomato Sauce (I usually use Contadina)
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Salt (or to taste)
2 cups Rice
1 can Garbanzo Beans


You will want everything ready to incorporate because the rice will require constant attention for about ten minutes. 
Place a heavy bottomed pot on the stove and set the heat to high. Add 1 tbsp oil and after allowing it to heat for a few seconds add the sofrito.  Saute the Sofrito for about 15-30 seconds, then add the tomato sauce and saute for another 10-20 seconds.  Add the rice (dry), garbanzos beans, and enough water to cover the rice by about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch. (You can adjust the amount of water to get the texture you prefer).  Stir using a plastic or wooden spoon (so as not to damage your pot),  add the salt, and continue stirring, making sure the rice does not stick to the bottoms or sides of the pot.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium high so the water maintains a steady boil, and continue stirring as before until the mixture becomes thick.  This usually happens when there is about an eighth of an inch of water covering the rice (about 6-8 minutes).  Cover the rice and reduce the heat to medium and let it steam for about 10-15 minutes. 

The next part is important and my friend explained it better that I could ...
"Check on the rice by stirring it, taking care not to disturb the layer of rice touching the bottom and sides of the pot.  This rice (called pegao) will become caramelized, and sometimes a little burned, but protects the rest of the rice from being burned. The rest of the rice, depending on your taste, will be anywhere from mushy to fluffy to al dente, depending on how much water you started with.  If it seems a bit too dry, and undercooked for your taste, then add about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hot water and stir, again, being careful with the bottom layer."

Once the rice is done, remove it from the heat, and serve. 

Another thought from my friend...

"After storing any leftover "top layer" rice, scrape the pegao from the sides and bottom of the pot (if there is any...some pots don't create pegao), and form portions of it into rice balls if you like.  Otherwise, discard and soak the pot overnight for easy cleaning."

Seasoned Meat


1-2 lbs Beef Tenderloin (I used ground beef this time because that was what I had on hand)
1/2 - 1 tbsp Oregano
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp onion powder or 1 onion diced and sauted with the meat
salt and pepper to taste
Sazon (this can be found in the international aisle as well)
1 tbsp vinegar
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

I chose a nice piece of beef tenderloin and cut it into strips which I the seasoned with oregano, garlic, onion, Sazon, salt and pepper, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of your favorite vinegar (I prefer Balsamic). Allow the meat to marinate for about 10 minutes (If you get it ready it can marinate while you start the rice). Saute Gently over Medium heat until cooked through and serve over rice.

I hope you have as much fun as I did making this Puerto Rican favorite. The flavors seem so simple but they just burst in your mouth and leave you wanting more. Enjoy!

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