I love trying new recipes, so of course, I had to try one of the local favorites here in Puerto Rico - Habichuelas Guisadas (Stewed Beans). I first tried homemade Habichuelas Guisados when our pastor's family welcomed us for dinner. We've known this family for a short time, but man, do we love them! I think I had three-four (!) helpings of Habichuelas Guisadas and Rice that night. I couldn't stop, so my friend shared the recipe with me.
I get many questions from back home about the kind of American stores and brands here, what's different, etc. To be honest, it's pretty easy to get around the grocery stores; they carry many the same things, but every once and a while, we won't be able to find what we are looking for (RIP Jiffy cornbread). There are three items on the list you may have a hard time finding if you are in the U.S. (Sofrito + Sozon Goya + Recao), so I've provided a substitute and also a Sofrito recipe at the bottom! It's best to check at a Latino market.
Now let's spice up your beans!!
What you'll need:
Sofrito - Chef Pineiro con Cilantro (Puerto Rican Sofrito is green, we add the tomato paste later so keep that in mind when shopping for Sofrito at the store)
Red Kidney Beans
Tomato Paste or Sauce (your preference but I like the paste for a thicker consistency)
Cubito Knorr de Pollo (Chicken Bouillon Cubes)
Sazon Goya - Culantro y Achiote
Recao (you can use regular Cilantro as a substitute)
Now for the directions, my friend said that she never measures, so when she sent me a voice recording of the steps, they were all guesses! However, it turned out amazing, so I will share her exact steps with you guys.
I suggest a medium pot depending on the size of beans you choose. I've been using the 29oz can and then double the below ingredients! Start to warm up 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil on low heat as your adding the other ingredients.
Add 2 tablespoons of Sofrito con Cilantro.
Cut your Chicken Bouillon Cube into quarters and only use one quarter.
Add the packet of Sazon Culantro y Achiote.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
Add 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
Stir and add in the ham (the amount of ham depends on your liking!) You can also increase the heat to medium now.
Rinse your beans and add them in.
Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
I love cracked pepper, so I always add a ton!
Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Then you can chop 2 Recao leaves or 1 tablespoon of cilantro.
Once this has reached a low boil, turn down to simmer. The longer you let this simmer, the thicker it will be! Once it reaches your preferred consistency, add it to a bed of rice.
I've only cooked jasmine in the past but decided to try the Puerto Rican rice - Arroz Rico, which is a medium-grain, and it's excellent! I typically add a tablespoon of butter, but the locals love to use oil instead.
If you cannot find Sofrito in your grocery store or market, you can make it fresh. My friends here prefer to make it fresh; they say it tastes more like grandma's cooking, and we all know that's the best!
How to make Sofrito con Cilantro:
3 large green bell peppers
3 large Spanish onions - if you don't see a label for Spanish onions, grab yellow onions!
2 bags of aji dulce (about 10 peppers)) OR if you are unable to find these at the market, you can substitute 1 red bell pepper
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 large bunch of cilantro
1/2 bunch of recao (about 15 leaves) OR if you are unable to find recao, increase cilantro to two bunches
Food processor or blender needed.
Remove stems and seeds from all peppers. I would cut the bell peppers into quarters so that it fits nicely in the food processor.
Peel the onion + cut it into quarters.
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until finely minced.
You can store it in your refrigerator if using within a few weeks; make sure it's in an appropriate container (airtight!). You can also easily freeze sofrito, and you don't have to thaw before you use it!
I would love to know if you try this recipe; send me a DM on my Instagram @rachelnrico!