Lessons From A Puerto Rican Kitchen

Parenthood certainly has its ups and its downs. I would say that the ups far outweight the downs  . . . well, most days anyway. One of the unexpected ups has been all of the wonderful friendships that we’ve formed with the parents of our ponytails’ close friends. With no family here in Toronto, this amazing group of parents has become part of our “village” as we raise our girls.

There’s one member of our village who has taught us many things: how nothing helps you win an argument like speaking Spanish; how to style long hair into the perfect bun for a ballet performance; and the secret to light and fluffy rice. I’m talking about the one and only Mercedes, our friend from Puerto Rico.

Mercedes holding a Puerto Rican caldero, with her daughter

Mercedes is known for cooking a range of authentic Puerto Rican dishes when she holds a dinner party. Apparently though, in the early days of marriage, her husband affectionately nicknamed her Adobo the Alcoholic Chef because of her tendency to add adobo spice to everything she prepared, while sipping on a glass of white wine. She’s obviously diversified her cooking skills since then, but she’s still known to enjoy a good glass of wine now and then.

According to Mercedes, adobo is one of three main ingredients that are part of quintessential Puerto Rican cooking: adobo, sofrito and achiote. Anxious to learn more about the dishes that we’ve come to enjoy at her place, I asked Mercedes to teach me how to make Arroz con Pollo and Stewed Red Beans a few months ago. Her mom also showed me how to make Tostones while visiting Toronto a few years back.

It was finally time to put all of these lessons to the test. This weekend I would try my hand at making a few traditional Puerto Rican dishes (Arroz con Pollo, Stewed Red Beans and Tostone) and then have Mercedes and her family join us for dinner. Fortunately, I was also armed with a popular cookbook authored by an award-winning Puerto Rican chef that Mercedes gave me as a gift, which helped to fill in the gaps where my memory failed me:

Puerto Rico True Flavors by Wilo Benet
Thanks for this excellent cookbook Mercedes!

It is always nerve-wracking to prepare an authentic dish for an expert, so I was pretty nervous. After tasting one bite of my Arroz con Pollo, Mercedes shook my hand and said “now I’m going to call you Sofrito, My Puerto Rican Sister”. Whew. My rice wasn’t cooked quite perfectly, but the right flavours seemed to be there. Cooking rice perfectly really is an art form – one that Mercedes has definitely mastered! Fortunately, despite this, it  wasn’t difficult to get the kids to eat their dinner.

Miss M, my oldest ponytail (right) and her longtime pal Miss G (Mercedes’ daughter).

I’ve included all of the recipes required to make this Puerto Rican meal in this post. I recommend making the sofrito, the dry adobo spice and achiote oil a few days in advance – it’ll allow you to focus on preparing the Arroz con Pollo perfectly.

This meal may seem daunting because of all of the steps involved — hopefully not, but if so, then I encourage you to at least try the dry adobo rub. You can use it as a seasoning for so many things (meats, fish and beans) and it works well as a seasoning for beef tacos as well – just add some paprika, dried cilantro and chili powder to the meat along with the adobo. Judy at Petit4chocolatier used adobo recently as part of a coating for tilapia that I can’t wait to try.

Arroz con Pollo, Stewed Red Beans and Tostones

Arroz con Pollo [Rice with Chicken]

Recipe created using tips from Mercedes and Wilo Benet’s Puerto Rico True Flavors

  • 1 ½ lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
  • 1 batch of wet adobe paste, optional [see recipe below]
  • 3 tbsp achiote oil [see recipe below]
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeds and inner white ribbings removed, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pounded to a paste
  • 1/3 cup sofrito [see recipe below]
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • ½ cup small green olives stuffed with pimientos, sliced in half
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 cups long-grain rice
  • 4 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shelled green peas

Instructions

  1. Rub the wet adobe paste [see recipe below] on the chicken pieces and refrigerate covered for 2-3 hours, or overnight.
  2. In a caldero or dutch oven, warm the achiote oil [see recipe below] over high heat. Add the onion, red pepper, garlic and sofrito [see recipe below] and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and olives, and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring so that the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  3. Add the chicken and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and cook until it evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the rest of the ingredients. Pour in the chicken stock, season with the salt and stir. Bring to a full boil and cook until the water evaporates and the surface of the rice is visible with some bubbling in between the grains, about 8 minutes.
  4. Lower the heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice grains are loose and fluffy, about 15-20 minutes (check after 10 minutes just in case). Add the peas, cover and cook for another 3 minutes.

Sofrito [SOH-FREE-to]

From Wilo Benet’s Puerto Rico True Flavors

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 cubanelle peppers, seeds and inner white ribbings removed, roughly chopped
  • 10 ajies dulces seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro (leaves and tender stems only)
  • 30 leaves culantro (if not available, increase add extra bunch of cilantro)
  • ½ cup fresh oregano (leaves only), loosely packed

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the olive oil with the vegetable oils. Add the onion and garlic and process for about 30 seconds to obtain a pungent white puree.
  2. Add the cubanelle peppers and the ajies dulces, and blend for another 30 seconds to obtain a light-green puree. Add the cilantro, culantro (if using) and oregano. Pulse and then scrape the sides of the blender/food processor with a rubber spatula. Process for another 30 seconds to obtain an herbed-speckled light-green puree with a piquant taste and pungent aroma.

Can be sealed in a jar or a bag and stored in the freezer for up to one month. Because sofrito serves as a base for numerous recipes, no salt should be added to the mixture.

I didn’t make this as Mercedes gave me a bag of frozen sofrito that she brought back from Puerto Rico. It was made with culantro, so it was very authentic!

Annato seeds and achiote oil, which has been prepared from the annato seeds.

Achiote Oil [ah-chee-O-tay oil]

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2.5 tablespoons annato seeds

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat to achiote seeds and oil for 10 minutes without boiling until the oil has been coloured with the achiote. Remove heat, and steep for another 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and discard the achiote seeds. Allow the annato oil to cool then poor into a container with a tight fitting lid. (No refrigeration is necessary).

Making a wet version of adobo paste for the chicken.

Wet Adobo Paste [ah-Do-bo]

(This is an optional step when preparing this rice dish and it is my own take on the recipe. It adds another layer of flavour to the rice.)

  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Smash the garlic with the salt until it forms a paste. Add the pepper, oregano, olive oil and lemon juice and combine well.

Dry Adobo Rub

Dry Adobo Rub [ah-Do-bo]

Adapted from Wilo Benet’s Puerto Rico True Flavors

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 to 3 tsp tumeric, according to taste
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Store in a tightly sealed jar or bag.

Mercedes always uses Goya’s prepared Adobo all purpose seasoning; I’ve included this recipe since Goya’s version isn’t readily available internationally.

Stewed Red Beans

Recipe based on instructions from Mercedes

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp sofrito
  • 1 tsp adobo dry spice mix
  • 1 tsp salt
  • One 398 ml tin of tomato sauce
  • 2, 19 ounce cans of Mexican small red beans (or red kidney beans)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp cooked bacon, crumbled (or ¼ cup cooked ham, diced)

In medium-sized heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, sofrito, adobo spice and bacon/ham and cook for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Add the beans, chicken stock and water and stir well. Lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mercedes fixed my version (pictured with the rice and tostones) by adding the water and chicken stock to make it more of a sauce. The recipe above incorporates this. She also typically uses Goya’s ham flavouring, so we developed the recipe with bacon or ham as a substitute.

The bottom of my small cast iron pan worked like a charm for smashing the fried plantain pieces.

Tostones [tos-TOH-nays]

Based on instructions from Mercedes; Makes about 32

  • 4 green plantains
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt water or garlic salt in a bowl of water; salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Peel the plantains: cut off ½ inch from both ends of the plantains. Using a sharp knife, score the skin lengthwise in three different sections Slide the tip of your knife or finger under the skin and begin to pull it away, going from top to bottom.
  2. In a frying pan, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil until sizzling hot. Cut plantain into 1-inch pieces and add to the hot oil. Fry for about 6 minutes until they start to turn golden and are tender inside. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Using the bottom of a frying pan (or tin can bottom/mallet), smash the plantains into thick tostones. If they stick to the pounding device, release them by quickly sliding a sharp knife under the tostones.
  3. Quickly dip the tostones into a bowl of salted water (but not too long otherwise they will turn soggy). Shake excess water off and carefully return to the hot oil (careful the oil will splatter). Refry for another 5 minutes until they begin to turn golden. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Mercedes’ mom likes to use garlic salt in place of regular salt in the salted water for dipping the tostones before frying.

Ingredients and Tools In the Puerto Rican Kitchen

Adobo [ah-DO-bo] is a widely-used all-purpose seasoning that is used to flavor and/or marinate meat, chicken, or fish. The key ingredients are garlic, oregano and black pepper. Other spices are commonly added based on regional preference. It can be made as a dry spice mix or wet rub paste. Adobo is used in Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain.

Aji dulce [ah-HEE-DUL-say] – This small pudgy pepper has a similar shape to the Scotch Bonnet, but it is sweet. It is usually green, but can range in colour from green to orange or red. It is an important ingredient in sofrito.

Annato seeds are a deep orange in colour and have a nutty flavour. They are used to make achiote oil, which gives Puerto Rican rice dishes their colour, in the same way that saffron gives colour to the Spanish dish paella.

Caldero (cal-DAY-ro] – A caldero (aluminum pot with lid) is a mainstay in the Puerto Rican kitchen. I bought this 24 centimeter caldero from Amazon.com and it works really well.

Culantro [coo-LAHN-tro] — Culantro is cilantro’s lesser known cousin and is very hard to find outside of the Carribean/Puerto Rico. It has long serated leaves and is also known as long leaf cilantro.

Plantain [plan-tane] – This tropical banana is used for cooking and is larger than an eating banana.

Sofrito [soh-free-to] – An important ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking that includes onion, garlic, peppers and culantro.

Tostonera — A tostonera is  wooden tool commonly used in Puerto Rico to flatten/smash the fried plantain pieces when making tostones, although I found that my small cast iron pan worked like a charm.

NOTES:

  • Mercedes says that the key to preparing fluffy rice is to ensure that you bring the rice and liquid to a full boil and cook (over low heat) until the water evaporates and the surface of the rice is visible with a bit of bubbling, then close the lid to finish cooking the rice for the last few minutes (also over low heat). This process helps to ensure lots of pegao — crusty rice at the bottom of the pan — which she and her family members always fight over.
  • Mercedes’ rule of thumb is 1 cup of water or chicken stock for ever 1 cup medium grain rice and 1.5 cups of water or chicken stock for every 1 cup of long grain rice. I used long grain rice for the Arroz con Pollo recipe because I couldn’t find any medium grain rice.
  • It is important to use green plantains when making the tostones. I bought my plantains at Phil’s Place at St. Lawrence Market (lower level) in Toronto.
  • I found annato seeds in the spice shop (lower level) at St. Lawrence Market, although I didn’t need to buy any as Mercedes was kind enough to give me a few packages from Puerto Rico.
  • I adapted many of these recipes from Mercedes because she likes to use a variety of Goya spices and products, such as Goya Adobo, which are readily available in Puerto Rico. Unfortuntely they are not as easy to come by internationally.
  • Another great resource for Puerto Rican cooking is an old favourite cookbook Puerto Rican Cookery. I have a copy that was kindly given to me by Mercedes’ mom several years ago (thanks again!).
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73 Comments on “Lessons From A Puerto Rican Kitchen”

  1. Mercedes says:

    Sofrito, you make me proud! As Jay said, you can now move to Puerto Rico and be the first Canadian chef with her own traditional Puerto Rican food joint. Seriously, thanks for the kind words. We love you, Kevin and the ponytails!

    • Thanks Adobo! I really have a ways to go before I’d be ready to serve these dishes to the locals, but it really is sweet of you to say so. I’ve had so much fun learning about your homeland and its cuisine — thank you for sharing your knowledge and for the amazing cookbook and spices. We love you guys too…and as you know the littliest ponytail is sweet on your husband!

  2. A_Boleyn says:

    I like having a jar of Sofrito in my fridge to add to rice, soups and stews when I don’t have the time to make the base from scratch. The arroz con polo reminds me of Indian pilau … all in all a very tasty meal though I’m a bit doubtful about the tostones. I know plantains are the starchier cousin of bananas but the similar texture which I dislike in bananas is offputting in spite of the frying process. One of the few things I dislike at sushi restaurants are the fried bananas offered for dessert.

    • Maria, I was excited to hear that you use sofrito! Do you always make your own or do you buy it? I’ve never seen it here in the stores. If you buy it, would you be able to let me know where? If you don’t like fried bananas, then you likely wouldn’t like the tostones as they still are very similar in flavour to bananas …just savory.

      • A_Boleyn says:

        I usually buy my jar of Sofrito. I think I bought it at a local Mexican grocery store but they should have Sofrito at Food Basics in their international area where they have Indian, Middle Eastern, Thai, etc imports.

        As to bananas, I have textural issues with them. I can drink them in smoothies and very occasionally I make a banana bread but as to eating them out of hand … not something I can manage.

  3. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Delicioso! LOVE this post Barb. What an exquisito feast! I’ve never cooked Puerto Rican cuisine, but I’m tempted to give it a try. The Arroz con Pollo looks lovely and family-friendly too. Great photos. I’m suddenly very hungry :)

    • Yes, the Arroz con Pollo is very family friendly. You could skip the wet adobo step, which would cut down on some of the work. My oldest daughter really liked this a lot . . . in fact I was away the next day and they finished it all off on me. I’m going to have to make it again soon! Let me know if you have trouble finding the annato…it would be easy to send some to you (and I can buy it here!).

  4. Eva Taylor says:

    I cannot believe you held this back, Barbie! How incredible that you got a great cooking course from a friend (and something my sweet, dear Mom would have done too! )I’ve never tried Porto Rican food but after your post, I would love to! The spices and flavourings sound incredible.
    Those ponytails are sure lucky to have a Mom like you.

    • Yes, it has been fantastic to receive all these lessons. I haven’t held back — it took me this long to do my research and get organized to make these dishes! I also wanted to wait for fall, since this didn’t seem like a summer meal. I’ll have to make the Arroz con Pollo for you next time you come for dinner. I really enjoyed it and I’d like to perfect my technique!

  5. What an exquisite cuisine my friend, I bet your family must have been so proud :D
    I love how many delicious elements are involved!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  6. Anne says:

    This feast looks amazing Barb! I love arroz con pollo!

  7. what a beautiful feast! i recently cooked a maltese feast with my mum, which was probably as special an experience as yours x

    • I just loved your post on your Maltese feast Meg. What a special way to honour your grandmother. While we live quite a distance away from one another, it’s nice to be able to swap recipes! I hope you try your nana’s spaghetti recipe soon.

  8. Tandy says:

    Thanks for explaining the ingredients as we don’t get some of them here :)

  9. petit4chocolatier says:

    This is an amazing feast and I love all the facts and information. I absolutely love the wet adobo paste and true color recipes. I use sofrito too!! Everything looks delicious and the smiles are contagious!

    Thank you for acknowledging me. That was so kind of you.

    I hope you don’t mind if I reblog your link for Lessons from a Puerto Rican Kitchen on my reblog tastings page? I hope that others will read it and see your blog via your flavorful link!

    • Thank you for your kind comment! I was so excited when I saw your recent post as the adobo is not very common here in Canada. Perhaps it is more widely used in the US?

      I am honored that you would like to reblog this post — I had so much fun working on it! Of course I am okay with that! Thanks again!

  10. I really enjoyed this post, very informative! The first picture had my mouth watering!

  11. Ali says:

    I’ve never tried Puerto Rican food, but it looks delicious and something I would definitely enjoy eating! It does look quite daunting, but I’ve bookmarked the recipe to at least try the adobo.

    • Ali,
      Given all of the interesting dishes I’ve seen you prepare, I’m sure you would have enjoyed it. Making the rice dish is definitely manageable — especially if you do a couple steps in advance. It’s a little more work to make all three dishes at the same time.

  12. Divine! This looks absolutely delicious!

  13. These recipes look wonderful! I’ve never made authentic food from Puerto Rico, but maybe I could take small steps and try a few things based on these recipes. Delicious!

  14. Debi says:

    Barb, these are wonderful recipes. I can’t wait to try them and relive our love of Puerto Rican food! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Karen says:

    Sounds like a terrific meal, Barb. I enjoyed delicious Puerto Rican food often when we lived in Florida.

  16. Kristy says:

    This is a very ambitious meal, but it looks totally worth it. Looks like you pulled it off like a charm too. We haven’t cooked from PR yet…going to remember this when we do!

    • Thanks Kristy! It was worth the effort — and making the tostones was therapeutic (how often to you get to bash something with your frying pan for a good reason?). Hopefully you guys will select PR for your posts one day.

  17. Jeanette says:

    This looks spectacular. Thanks for the very thoughtful (and thorough:-) directions!!

  18. erika says:

    Wow, I am so impressed that you manage your puerto rican friend thought your food was good enough to call you her puerto rican sister! You definitely committed yourself to what looks like a very elaborate set of steps to achieve the right flavors–I enjoyed reading about it!

    • Thanks Erika! It was nerve-wracking but I wasn’t too worried since I wasn’t expecting perfection. It was great to get the feedback from Mercedes because there were a few little things that I forgot or that we didn’t touch on previously. I learn best by doing!

  19. What a feast of flavors! How brave you were to take up learning a new cuisine and then presenting it to your talented friend. I love the photos of your daughter and her friend.. sweetest of smiles and happy munching going on in that photo! I don’t have time to work out this recipe, but I’m going to bookmark it for the future. I haven’t ever tasted sofrito before.. maybe I should dine out at a restaurant so at least I know what I’m going for:) You’ve got excellent instructions all laid out here for us!!

    • Thanks Barb. I hope you give Puerto Rican food a try one day. The garlic, onion, oregano and cilantro are key flavours throughout all the dishes — but there are lots of different interpretations in recipes out there so you can’t go wrong. I had never heard of sofrito before but love how it is a key staple in so many PR dishes.

  20. Awh the girls are so cute together :)
    This looks like a wonderful PR feast! I’ve always wanted to taste some food from that side of the globe, but it looks like it needs a day aside just for prep and cooking… :)
    Thanks for the well laid out recipe and notes.. it makes it that much more encouraging to give it a go :)

    • Fati, I didn’t spend that long making the achiote oil or adobo in advance… but it did take a couple of hours to make everything that afternoon. (I was racing to take the photos before the sun went down.) It just sounds (and looks) like a lot because of all the recipes that needed to be posted. I hope you give it a try!

  21. What an awesome experience for your entire family. I feel like I have been to PR with you. I love the flavors and all the definitions and explanations. I think our international friends can be the best culinary teachers in the world. Everything looks delicious, I don’t know where to begin but I am certain I will give at least one of those recipes a try once my stove and oven are fixed…. Take care, BAM

    • What a nice thing to say Bam! I feel like I’ve been there too — and I definitely want to go there one of these days. Hope your stove/oven are fixed soon (how frustrating!). And yes, our international friends definitely make the best teachers! It is such a great way to learn more about your friends too.

  22. wow very adventurous! I haven’t even heard of those main flavourings, down here we get more Asian influence. Sounds great to try, hopefully I’ll get the chance one day.

  23. Maureen says:

    Would you please tell Mercedes that I would love to have her living next door to me. :) I’d love a hands-on teacher like that! Gorgeous food.

  24. Sissi says:

    Barb, first of all, you look gorgeous on this photo!
    Secondly I have devoured your post and recipes and instructions because I don’t know anything about Puerto Rican cuisine. Everything sounds and looks fantastic and I’m sure I would enjoy this cuisine a lot. What a marvellous feast!
    The funny thing is that I have recently bought annato seeds to make annato oil for… Vietnamese cuisine! I have a Vietnamese cookery book and it’s one of the basic ingredients. The world is so small isn’t it?
    I think I would make friends with Mercedes too. Not only because of the food but because I also sip white wine when I cook for a longer period. Staying in the kitchen seems more joyful this way ;-)

    • Sissi,
      I have to come clean — the picture is of my gorgeous friend Mercedes. (Sadly, I’m a brunette.) I’m quite intrigued to learn that annato oil is used for Vietnamese cuisine — I’m going to have to check that out!

      You’d like Mercedes for sure. I agree …a good glass of wine makes cooking more joyful (thus the “with a glass” blog name right?) I knew there was a reason I liked you!

      • Sissi says:

        Oh my.. I feel so stupid, but she doesn’t look like a Puerto Rican! (Not that I have ever been to Puerto Rico though ;-) ). I actually at first wanted to ask if you have changed your hair colour to blonder (because I vaguely thought of you as someone with dark blond hair… not brunette…don’t ask me why), but then I thought it was rude.
        Personally I dream of Japanese thick glossy black hair… I was so jealous when I was in Tokio.
        Yes, hence the name of my blog ;-) I am now preparing the dinner too and sipping a glass of wine ;-) I wish I had another cooker, with a glass of wine too, as a company from time to time ;-)
        Sorry for this silly mistake.

        • Don’t feel stupid! I don’t post photos of myself on the blog very often. I understand from Mercedes that her blonde hair and blue eyes stand out in Puerts Rico.

          There are times when I’d like someone else helping and drinking in the kitchen too!

  25. musingmar says:

    Congratulations on pulling off such a multi-step and delicious looking meal! Your post is my first introduction to Puerto Rican cooking, and I see that here is yet another culture of food to explore. I so appreciate the detailed information that you provide in your post. I will be able to refer back to this in future when I’m ready to tackle this. It must have been such a pleasure to thank your friend for all she’s taught you by serving her an authentic meal from her culture!

  26. They are so cute! They looked like they enjoyed it :) What a beautiful meal!

  27. emmycooks says:

    This sounds amazing! And once you have all the ingredients, it’s even easier next time. :). The flavors sound so good!

  28. glamorous glutton says:

    Great recipe, I’ve never seen any recipes for Puerto Rican food. Looks like amazing flavours. I wanted to email you my dukkah recipe but can’t find a Contact Me. GG

  29. Charles says:

    Hi Barb, what an exciting post – full of colours, flavours, culture and smiles! I know next to nothing about Puerto Rican food, but I can tell I’d love it already. It looks like you did a bang up job!! The rice in the arroz con pollo looks wonderful, even if you say it wasn’t quite perfect.

    I agree I’d be a bit daunted with all the steps, but look at the end result – wow!

    Those tostones – I had no idea they were Puerto Rican… my wife discovered them online somewhere once a couple of years ago and we since have made them a few times, although the recipe we followed said one should smash them first, and then fry. I’d be interested in how (if at all) this affects the flavour. We used a drinking glass… place it on the plantain slice and push and twist slightly, then dunk in oil – yum!

    • Charles I know that you would love the flavours in this food. The flavour combinations are so unique and rather addictive. I can’t wait to make the rice again. I was talking to Mercedes about your tostones recipe and she said they might be a bit mushy without double frying them. It is traditional to fry the pieces first them smash them, dip in the water and salt and then fry again. I don’t eat a lot of fried food so these were a splurge. You could always try the double frying and see if that makes a difference. That is exciting that you have tried tham though….you are so adventurous Charles!

  30. Wow what a feast – I love it all!! And your ponytails :-)
    I would love to try this gorgeous dish!

  31. I don’t think I’ve ever tried Puerto Rican cuisine…it looks so interesting and the spices definitely appeal to my taste buds. Must try this dish!

  32. Norma Chang says:

    What a wonderfully authentic Puerto Rican meal. Your glossary of the ingredients used was very helpful, thanks.

  33. What a wonderful feast!
    I have never cooked a puerto rican meal but that Arroz con Pollo sounds easy enough to start with. I need to get a few ingredients and try this soon!
    Hats off to you on a job beautifully done

  34. Love, love, love this and kudos to you for making it. I love Puerto Rican cuisine and have never tried my hand making even one dish…much less these with so many steps. The flavors sound amazing!


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