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Cooking Puerto Rican: Rice with Pigeon Peas & Plantain Lasagna

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Get these recipes courtesy of Elda Castenallanos, owner of El Comal Grill in southwest Detroit.

Rice with Pigeon Peas - Arroz con Gandules
Any special occasion meal in Puerto Rico would not be complete without Arroz con Gandules. After all, Rice with Pigeon Peas is Puerto Rico's national dish. This recipe is rice and pigeon pea dish seasoned with sofrito and diced ham.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 cup sofrito
• 1/2 cup chopped ham (or cooked pork pieces)
• 2 cups rice
• 4 cups water
• 1 packet sazón
• 1 15-ounce can Pigeon Peas/Gandules (drained and rinsed)

Preparation:
Heat olive oil in a 6-quart pot. Saute the sofrito and chopped ham for 1 minute.
Add the rice, water, sazón and gandules.
Bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 35 to 40 minutes.
Tip: Do not use a lid with a vent that allows the steam to escape. Never lift the lid while cooking.
When finished cooking, stir the rice before serving. It should be light and fluffy.
Servings: 4 to 6 people.

Puerto Rican Pastelón (Plantain Lasagna)
It has the perfect combo of savory and sweet, of juicy and cheesy, of wanting to lick your plate and then lick your face! Its layers of savory beef, fried sweet plantains and cheese.

Ingredients
• 1 pound Ground Beef
• 1 whole Medium Onion, Minced
• 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
• 1 whole Green Pepper, Minced
• ½ cups Cilantro, Chopped
• 2 teaspoons Adobo Seasoning (Goya)*
• 2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
• 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
• 1 envelope Sazon Sin Achiote Seasoning (Goya)*
• 2 leaves Bay Leaves
• 8 whole Stuffed Green Olives, Halved
• ½ cups Raisins
• ¼ cups Tomato Sauce
• 4 whole Ripe Plantains, Sliced Lengthwise
• 3 whole Eggs
• 2 Tablespoons Milk
• 2 cups Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
• Vegetable Oil
• Salt, Or To Taste

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter square pan with 1 tbs of butter.
Combine, beef, onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro, adobo, oregano, vinegar and sazon. Mix well.
Heat a large skillet at medium-high heat with 2 Tbs of olive oil, add meat mixture.
Cook beef until brown and of the juices bubble up, add bay leaves, olives, raisins and tomato sauce. Mix and let simmer for 10 minutes, set aside.
Heat a large frying pan with vegetable oil, just enough to coat the bottom. Fry plantains for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and slightly crispy. Drain on a plate with paper towel, set aside.
To assemble pastelon: Take your prepared square pan, start with a layer of plantains, then beef, then a fistful of cheese, repeat. You want to finish with cheese and plantains.
Beat 3 eggs with 2 Tbs of milk, pour over the pastelón. Let it sit for a minute allowing the egg to soak in. Top off with just a bit more cheese.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

*Goya Adobo and Sazon can be found in the Latin aisle of your grocer or in your local Latin grocery.
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