Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 25, 2012 02:07 PM

disappointed with Arroz con gandules

Hi all

I made a recipe of arroz con gandules here;

Problem was, I found it rather bland. I added Achiote paste (which didn't really break down) and some sliced fresh tomato with salt (which helped), but overall I found it a bit boring. I served it with grilled drumsticks. The combination of the two was nice, but not great. Does anyone have a way to perk up this puerto rican staple, or another rice recipe (i.e. Mexican or other latino) which has a bit more flavour?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hmm, not sure what went wrong with that particular recipe. Usually when I hear "bland," I think "needs more salt, pepper, and umami" (whether from soy sauce, Worcestershire, Braggs amino acids, bullion/soup base, Maggi, mushrooms, etc.). Looking at that particular recipe, I would use broth (from a Knorr cube would be fine) in place of the water and add half a diced onion, sauteed in butter, and perhaps also a bay leaf.

    I often make a "red rice" when cooking Mexican/Latin American/Tex-Mex food. Basically you sautee a finely diced onion in butter, then add your rice and cook that, stirring often, until it begins to toast. Then I add a bay leaf and about 1 tbsp. of tomato paste (sometimes also a minced clove of garlic) and saute until the tomato paste darkens a bit (adding a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking too much if needed). Then I add 1 can of Spanish-style tomato sauce, 1/4 tsp. of cumin, and maybe a little ground dried chili or sweet paprika. I add enough broth (usually Knorr chicken or vegetable) to steam the rice, cover, and simmer it over low heat until tender. Sorry these aren't very precise directions, but I often find you have to make rice "by feel" rather than according to a strict recipe, as absorption properties and cook times vary.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ChristinaMason

      And if you'd like to try something different but still in the rice and beans vein, I've had success using this recipe for Haitian beans and rice:

      1. re: ChristinaMason

        First what sofrito did you use? That can make a big difference.
        I find that in these recipes, the chiles dulce (tiny sweet chiles with the habanero fragrance) make all the difference. That and some good porky flavor and of course the garlic. the recipe below has some flavor components that your recipe does not have. I would not rely on canned sofrito to get you to your desired flavor profile - better to make your own or jazz up a commercial version. ps. I would add some fresh cilantro as a garnish if I were making the recipe described below.

        I like the recipe inCarmen Aboy Valldejuli's book, which starts with frying browned bits of salt pork and ham, then adds fat or the achiote coloring, oregano, .Garlic, green peppers, sweet chili peppers, culantro leaves and tomato are then chopped together and added, saute for 10 min. then add 1/4 C tomato sauce, capers, 6 olives stuffed with pimentos and drained gandules, Drain (soaked) rice and add to kettle, then boiling water (including liquid from can of beans), cook uncovered over moderate heat for 20 min.

        1. re: jen kalb

          Hi Jen
          I can't get Aji Dulces around here, do you Habaneros and a bit of sugar?
          My sofrito was a homemade one consisting of bell pepper, cilantro, garlic

          1. re: laisla

            I dont think the habenero is the answer - it would give you too much fire for this dish along with the chile chinense fruitiness you want (the aji dulces are not "sweet" just not spicy.) Some of the frozen sofrito or similar mixes could have the aji dulces if you have a store that carries them - not sure the jarred product is quite as good. However, I think getting more porky flavor (from rendered salt pork bits) and olives and capers, along with some fresh cilantro, could pep up your dish considerably.

            1. re: jen kalb

              interesting how "aji dulces" are not sweet. Do you think jalapenos would go with this dish? I realise it is probably a stretch, but I can't get store-bought sofrito either

              1. re: laisla

                some people call bell peppers sweet peppers - I just think its sweet in contrast to hot. Jalapenos have a very different flavor profile - dont know what they would add other than heat- why not just work with what you have and see if you can amp it up a bit? If you want to add heat a tiny bit of habanero based sauce would be nice.

        2. re: ChristinaMason

          I've recently been using the Knorr concentrated stock (Homestyle stock) as an additional flavor booster. I've liked the results. I've only used the low sodium chicken so far, but I bought a beef one to try too. I think this might give this recipe better results, too.

        3. I found another recipe for arroz con gandules that sounds a bit more flavorful. Might be worth a try, considering the praise in the comments:,1718,...

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChristinaMason

            Hi Christina
            Thanks for the links. I did make this second one too and found it was better, but still a bit bland. perhaps I'll relace the water with chicken stock next time

            1. re: laisla

              Sure thing. The red rice I mentioned above is definitely flavorful if you're looking for something with a bit more going on!

          2. Most rice dishes aren't meant to be strongly flavored. Cultures that regularly eat rice are just as happy with plain rice as they are with elaborate preparations. I don't see anything wrong with your recipe. What recipe did you use for the sofrito (or is that from a jar)? I often use sazon to color my rice (and to add some msg). I haven't the PR version, but in the Bahamas, the distinctive flavoring in rice and peas (pigeon) is thyme.

            What's your notion of bland and/or well flavored? Enough salt? chile hot? heavy use of herbs and garlic?

            Achiote paste does not have strong flavor. Apart from the Yucatan, achiote is used more for color than flavor. In many countries (PR included) achiote seeds are fried in oil to color it, but then strained out.

            Arroz con pollo, , may be the most elaborate Latin American rice dish, and even there it's the chicken that's the star.

            1 Reply
            1. re: paulj

              I may need to make more spicy mojo sauces to accompany the rice dishes in that case. Give the meal a bit more spice.

              1. re: sunshine842

                Lovely recipe, Sunshine
                Can I substitute dried thyme for fresh? If so, how much?

                My pigeon peas are frozen, not canned

                1. re: laisla

                  Yes, you can sub dried thyme - maybe 1/2 teasoon.

                  Not a problem - just thaw the pigeon peas before adding them.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    thank you. I will try it this week

                    1. re: laisla

                      I made this rice last nite - surprisingly easy yet lots of flavour. A great suggestion. Any more recommendations?

              2. ha! disappointed by an recipe...I wonder why. That site is such rubbish.

                Find a better recipe. And the flavour in that is mostly going to be from the Sofrito so you need a good sofrito recipe.