On the blog’s homepage mini slide show, you may have noticed a new tag floating with the pictures of the recent posts. Domingo Criollo is a new section I am developing to share some of my favorite Puerto Rican or Puerto Rico influenced recipes. These recipes are easy and a great introduction to the flavors of the island. Truth be told, you can add sofrito to many of your own favorites soups and stews and they will instantly warm up with that touch of onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro and recap that’s so distinctive to the island’s cooking. Puerto Rican food is not spicy, but rather savory and bursting with the taste of all those delicious aromatics.
The rice cooker is one of my favorite – and space eating – kitchen appliances. I try to use it at least once or twice a week to make white and ‘seasoned’ rices – arroces guisados. One of my favorite tricks is to cook down some vegetables and a bit of sofrito in the rice cooker insert on the stove top. The rice gets toasted with all the flavorful fat and aroma. After adding chicken or vegetable stocks and stirring all the ingredients together, it’s just a matter of transferring the insert into the rice cooker machine and pressing a button.
Annatto oil gives rice its delicate yellow tint. It’s very easy to make and keeps forever if stored in an airtight container. In a small saucepan, warm a cup of vegetable oil with two heaping tablespoons of annatto seeds until the oil is a vibrant orange color. In a pinch you can use half an envelope of sazón – premixed seasoning mix that contains powdered annatto and sofrito spices – but I’m not a big fan. I keep envelopes of the ‘lite’ version without MSG in the house if I’m running low on annatto oil or have too little sofrito left.
This recipe for arroz con maíz – rice with corn – feels right at home with roast chicken, your favorite steak, and Thanksgiving turkey. Here’s to a happy holiday if you celebrate it with your family and friends.