My grandmother Ita always says an “arroz guisado” (stewed rice) is as good as the “sofrito” you make. In Puerto Rico, sofrito refers to a blend of oil, onions, garlic, aji dulce (sweet peppers), bay leaf, tomato sauce, “alcaparrado” (a blend of manzanilla olives and capers), cubanel and bell peppers, culantro (recao) and sometimes, ham, cilantro, oregano, annatto oil and cumin that is sauteed for a prolonged time to create a base for rice, legumes, soup or stews. Sofrito has its origins in Mediterranean cuisine and is also popular in Greece, Portugal and Spain. As a result of colonization and the discovery of the new world, many latin american countries have their own variation of sofrito for each specific region.
Arroz con Salchichas is a popular Puertorrican one pot meal that is inexpensive, simple and savory. It is sometimes called “the hurricane season diet” because it is easy to prepare over a gas stove, feeds a crowd and its ingredients don’t need refrigeration. It is loved by young and old and is a staple dish in traditional Puertorrican families, comfort food for many and an “antojito” (craving) for expatriates.
Arroz con Salchichas
2 tbsp canola oil (annatto oil can also be used for a deeper red color)
1/4 cup cubanel (pimiento de cocinar) or green pepper finely chopped
1/3 cup yellow onion finely chopped
1 fresh garlic clove minced
1 tbsp red bell pepper finely chopped
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 laurel leaves
1 “recaito ice cube” (about 1 1/2 tbsp store bought recaito)
2 cans vienna sausage coarsely sliced (save brine)
1/4 cup canned sweet corn
2 tbsp alcaparrado (mix of manzanilla spanish olives and capers)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 cups medium white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1. Heat oil (med-low) then add green cubanel pepper, onions, garlic and red pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.
2. Add rest of ingredients, except chicken broth and rice, and saute in med low for about 7-8 minutes.
3. Add rice to sofrito and quickly saute to cover all rice with color. Then add chicken stock and sausage brine and bring heat to medium. Let cook uncovered until almost all liquid has evaporated and you see bubbles on top of rice.
4. Bring heat to low. Stir with a slotted spoon and continue to cook covered, until rice is done (about 10-12 more minutes).