Arroz con Guandú, Risotto Style

My mom was an extraordinary cook and hostess. Some of my most cherished memories involve her, cooking and friends filling a room. It is only appropriate her cookbooks and notes would become my priceless inheritance.

While my sister and I cleaned out the house and determined what would stay and what would go, we came across books and notebooks and loose notes Mami wrote through the years. Selfishly, I claimed most of them.

As I find my way back to blogging, I will share a dish I found in one of her notebooks. Arroz con Guandú (Rice with Pigeon Peas) is a staple in Panama. That’s probably the reason this recipe caught my attention immediately. It is generally prepared with cured pigs tail and coconut milk. I haven’t been able to find pigs tails here in Houston, at least not the cured ones, so I sub’d with salt pork. Does the trick just as nicely. As for the guandú, I used frozen, but you could use canned and skip the cooking step. The Hubbz and I loved this dish, I’m sure you will too.

Risotto con Guandú

2/3 cup guandues (pigeon peas)
1/2 cup salt pork, chopped
1 can coconut milk (make sure it is unsweetened)
2/3 cup white wine
5 cups water
2 cups Arborio rice
Sea salt & black pepper

If you will use frozen peas, your first step will be to precook them in the coconut milk (a can will usually be about 14 oz.) + 1 cup water. Add just a little bit of salt and a dash of sugar and allow it to cook for about 20 minutes or until the guandues are tender, but not mushy. Strain the guandú out of the liquid and add enough water to measure at least 7 cups. Keep the water on warm.

You will want to use a skillet with a tight-fitting lid to cook the risotto. Add the salt pork to the skillet, cooking it over medium high heat to render the fat.

Add the rice, if there isn’t enough fat to generously coat all the grains, add a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Continue toasting the rice until the grains are milky white. Add the guandú and stir well.

Add the wine, stirring constantly. Once the wine evaporates, begin adding the coconut water about 1 cup at a time. Once the water evaporates, add another cup. Continue doing this until the rice is tender and creamy.

Add 2 tbsp of butter, stir it into the rice. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Cookingly yours,


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