Sunday, April 29, 2012

Puerto Rican Recipes

The day Ed got home from Viet Nam and day he got out of the Navy in 1970, I wanted to fix him the greatest meal he had ever had so I made Carne Mechada, a Puerto Rican Pot Roast that Ed was so pleased with because he said it was a dish that was only served on very special occasions.  I thought that I would share a few Puerto Rican recipes from my past with you. 

Carne Mechada


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white cooking wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Adobo
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 to 3-1/2 pounds eye roast


1 teaspoon olive oil
½ pound cooking ham, diced
Minced garlic
1 teaspoon Adobo
Pimento-filled olives


5 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Adobo is used in many Puerto Rican recipes.  You make up and keep it in you refrigerator for a marinade for most meats.  Put ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and store in jar in refrigerator until needed.  Makes about a cup.


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cooking wine
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced carrots
Diced potatoes

Combine the marinate ingredients and place round roast in it allowing the roast to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Use a long knife and make deep incisions in the meat all the way through the roast so you can stuff it.  I put 5 or 6 holes in the roast.  Stuff the roast with the stuffing. 

In a large Dutch oven add olive oil and heat pot until hot on medium heat.  Do not burn the olive oil. Brown the roast on all side and then add the adobo and sauté for two to three minutes.  Add wine, water, salt and pepper to roast.  Use a good red dry wine like a pinot noir or merlot. 

Cook uncovered over medium heat until the liquids begin to steam. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot.  Cook for 2 hours depending on the size of the roast.  Check often checking liquid in the pot.   Add additional water if needed.

When the meat is almost done you can add carrots and potatoes if you like and cook until they are done.  Serve with white or yellow rice. I prefer white. 

You can also bake your pot roast in the oven in a roaster or a glass baking dish covered with aluminum foil.  I did my first time because as a newly wed I did not have a Dutch oven.  After you brown the roast put it in your vehicle of choice and bake until almost tender and then add your veggies.  Cook low and slow in the oven for 2 hours or you can put in a crock pot on low.  Don't skip browning the roast though.  You can also add red peppers or onions if you like.

 Puerto Rican White Rice

I’m repeating myself here giving you information I already shared, but you won’t have to look it up back in my favorite recipes. I'll just cut and paste the recipe.

The secret is to have a good rice pan.  I was taught how to make P.R. rice by Ed's Aunt Epi.  She was a sweet heart.  Puerto Rican rice is so different than what I grew up on, I needed an expert to teach me.  I prefer basmati rice because of it's aroma and taste, but many use the yellow rice.  Cover the bottom of your heated pan with olive oil (Should be on high heat).  Put in 2 cups of rice.  Add a tsp. of garlic powder, pepper and salt.  Stir until the rice begins to turn whiter.  Add 3 cups of water and wait until it boils.  Turn down the heat to low and put on the lid. Do not lift the lid for 30 minutes.  Rice should be done.  

Married to a Puerto Rican, I was taught that you always had rice and beans on the stove so should company drop in, you always had plenty of food to share.  We had rice and beans at every meal even breakfast.  Ed would mix eggs with them.  I always had beans soaking for the next day.  They were also cheap and nutritious.  

The old school teaching by Aunt Epi taught me to rinse my rice well before cooking, but I stopped that practice some time ago knowing that I was washing away nutrients.

Red rice is nothing more than adding a little tomato sauce and maybe onion to the recipe. Ed loved red rice also, but he always wanted shrimp added to it and it became a whole meal with a side salad of pimentos and lettuce.  

Puerto Rican Beans  

Soak your bag of pinto beans over night in lots of water. Drain well, rinse and put in a stock pan and cover with water.  Add salt, pepper, a pinch of oregano, a tsp. of garlic powder and a small piece of salt pork for flavor.  Add a large tablespoon of tomato paste; bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Watch to make sure it does not need more water.  You can also use red beans, but Ed always preferred pinto beans.  There should be a wonderful bean broth that you put with the beans over the rice.  Add water as needed. This is Ed’s Aunt Epi recipe. 

I have seen many recipes out there but this is the simple one I made every day.  You can buy pinto beans in a can and my friend Carmen made her beans using canned.  Make sure you rinse them well and follow the other steps if you do use the canned beans.  Of course, it cuts down the cooking time because they are already cooked. 

Arroz con Pollo (Rice and Chicken)

Chicken is a big part of the Puerto Rican diet.  We had it more than any other meat.

2 cups of raw rice of your choice.  I prefer a long grain.
2 lb. chicken parts (I use chicken thighs with bone in for flavor or you can use chicken wings or breasts)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. chopped green olives with pimentos 
1 tsp. chopped capers
1/2 c. sofrito (see below)
1 tsp. garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 envelope of onion soup or ½ finely chopped onion or 2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 c. vegetable canola oil
1 envelope of sazon (a Puerto Rican Seasoning, I’ll try to replicate below)
Adobo to taste
4 cups of boiling water

For best results, prepare the chicken the day before.

Sprinkle the chicken with adobo and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the rice.

In a large pot, brown the chicken parts in the canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side. Take the chicken out of the pot and set aside on a plate.

In the same pot that you fried the chicken, (drippings and all), add the sofrito, tomato sauce, olives, capers, and garlic.  Mix well and cook the sofrito for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the onion, sazon, chicken and rice to the pot and stir.

Add the boiling water until the water is about 1 inch above the rice, but stir once only. No more or you will have sticky rice.

Boil uncovered, on medium high heat, until all the water is absorbed.

When the water is all absorbed, gently stir from bottom to top a little.  Cover the pot with aluminum foil to seal well, and then put on the lid to continue to cook over low heat for another 30 - 35 minutes or until the rice is tender. Using aluminum foil helps to cook the rice faster and evenly.  Do not remove lid or foil for 30 or 35 minutes.

You can also cook the chicken with the adobo in a crockpot all day while you go to work and when you get home, you can debone it but save the broth to make the rice instead of adding the water. 


Sofrito (similar to a salsa or relish) is another condiment used a great deal in Puerto Rican cooking.  You make it in advance and keep in your refrigerator.  It is used in soup and meat dishes.

2 medium green peppers, seeds removed
1 red sweet pepper, seeds removed
2 large tomatoes
2 medium onions, peeled
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1/2 bunch parsley leaves

Blend in your food processor or blender until consistency of a relish. 


Sazon means seasoning in Spanish; salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried ground coriander seed, cumin, oregano and ground annatto seeds. The achiote (annatto) is what makes the sazon reddish. You could sub paprika for the achiote, if need be. A good ratio is one Tbsp of each spice. Mix well and use 1 1/2 tsp for each packet of the most used  sazon called for.  Goya Sazon is a common brand name.  Your larger grocery stores are starting to stock sazon.  Look for it in the ethnic isles. 

If you want it very fresh, toast the cumin, coriander and peppercorns; grind and add the rest of the ingredients.  I have a mortar and pestle that I grind my spices in, but if you have a coffee grinder that you use for grinding spices that is great. 

In making any Puerto Rican Recipe you will see many recipes asking for the same condiments over and over again.  If you are only making a dish on rare occasions, you won’t want to make up any quantities, but if you want to goose up a meat recipe, try these condiments.  They add that somethin’, somethin’ to your dish.  

Esté feliz y puede Dios te bendiga y suyo (Be happy and may God bless you and yours).

No comments:

Post a Comment