About five minutes into this recipe from Daisy Martinez's Daisy Cooks, I had an inkling that the dish would be fantastic. The air was already heavy with smoked pork, aromatic chiles, briny capers and olives, and pungent cumin, and I was just getting ready to add beef broth to the mix. I paused to consider this miraculous rice dish from Puerto Rico. There is nothing humble about this dish at all. It's rich, fragrant, and deliciously meaty, even though there isn't really that much meat present.
In order to make this recipe work on a weeknight, we're going to take two shortcuts. The main one is to skip the homemade sofrito, and spring for a premade version. Daisy's recipe for sofrito is utterly delicious, but it would double the number of ingredients here. You can score some premade sofrito from a Puerto Rican supermarket (I'm looking at you New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, and, obviously, all of Puerto Rico). Otherwise, Goya has a decent version. Secondly, make things easier by skipping dried pigeon peas. Frozen pigeon peas work phenomenally, and the canned variety are alright in a pinch.
Other than that, it's all about chucking things into a large dutch oven and waiting for the smell to smack you across the face.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon annatto seeds (achiote)
- 1/2 cup prepared sofrito (Goya brand is fine)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped alcaparrado or pimiento-stuffed olives
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 pound smoked pork neck bones or 1 smoked ham hock
- 3 cups long-grain rice
- 1 (13-ounce) frozen bag pigeon peas or one 15-ounce can pigeon peas, drained
- 4 cups beef broth
Heat olive oil in an 8-inch stainless skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the annatto seeds. Stir occasionally until most of the seeds start to sizzle steadily. Immediately turn off the heat. Let skillet sit off heat until seeds stop sizzling. Strain seeds and pour infused oil into a large dutch oven.
Heat Dutch oven over high heat until oil shimmers. Add sofrito, alcaparrado (or pimiento-stuffed olives), salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until liquid boils away, and mixture starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes.
Add smoked pork. Stir well, then add rice and stir to evenly coat rice with oil. Add the pigeon peas, broth, and enough water to cover rice by an inch and a half.
Bring mixture to boil over high heat without stirring. Let boil until liquid meets level of rice. Cover Dutch oven, reduce the heat to low, and cook 20 minutes without opening lid.
Stir rice, fluff with fork, and serve.