"Soupy" Rice with Pigeon Peas

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Asopao – the Puerto Rican answer to Italian risotto – is a hearty, stew-like dish that is made from rice, peas, meat and, of course, habanero peppers. Between the asopao’s warmth and the pepper’s heat, Daisy Martinez describes this dish as being “just like a hug.”

Video Transcript

Hola, I'm Daisy Martinez for eHow.com. Today, we're going to make Puerto Rico's answer to risotto, li asopao. I've started out by browning a little bit of smoked pork butt that I've cubed in a little bit of achiote oil and we've made that before on eHow and to that I'm going to add a cup of sofrito, something else we've covered on eHow and I'm just going to cook that out. And you get like this beautiful fragrance once that Sofrito hits the ham and the achiote oil, a little bit of cumin, about a teaspoon and I have, here's a word for you, agape rao. Agape rao is nothing but a fancy Spanish word for olive salad. There's bonsonasalia olives, some capers and some little red pimentos, basically roasted red peppers and we're going to add that in. That adds another delicious briny note to, I love asopao is one of those dishes that can be as humble or as elegant as you want. You can make asopao with nothing but beans and rice like we're going to be doing today. I'm adding my rice and then I'm adding my pigeon peas which this, I mean in Puerto Rico, gandules are king. These are pigeon peas and we love them. It's a really really fun legume. Okay and so everything is added. We added our bay leaf, our cumin, our Sofrito, our achiote oil, that beautiful cubed ham, smoked ham butt and then we're going to add our stock. Now you can use chicken stock with this. You can use beef stock with this. What's great about this is that you now bring this to the boil and once it comes to the boil you simmer it, add a little salt and we'll tweak that again later and what we're left with, once this comes to the boil, you lower the heat and you let it simmer and what we're left with is this, a beautiful thick soupy rice, almost like I don't know like the consistency of porridge almost, oh, okay so and this is the way that I like to drink my asopao. Let's turn this asopao off because it is done. I've got a half an habanero in my bowl, can you see that? I'm not cheating and there's seeds in the bowl, okay and I mash it just to release the oils a little bit and then I add my asopao. Oh my goodness. If you've never tried gandules before this is a perfect starter because you have to do basically next to nothing to this dish and you see the rice is soft, not mushy, just barely starting to bloom or to curl at the edges, and then you have those beautiful meaty gandules with the smoke of the ham. Wow that's like a hug from your mommy. I'm Daisy Martinez for eHow.com and I am loving some asopao.

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