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How One Sunrise Team Member Shares His Culture Through Food for Hispanic Heritage Month

Senior Dining Services Coordinator Cruz has worked in the food industry for more than 30 years. His passion for food and for sharing the food of his native Puerto Rico have been key tenets of his career and of his time at Sunrise. This month, Cruz celebrates his 10-year anniversary with the Sunrise family and wanted to share one of his favorite dishes with all of you in honor of that milestone and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

First taught to him by his mother, Arroz con Gandules con Pernil y Maduros is Cruz’s family’s take on Puerto Rico’s national dish. The key ingredient, Gandules or Pigeon Peas in their English translation, are originally native to West Africa but have become a staple ingredient in South Indian, Latin American, and even Hawaiian and Filipino cuisines. The delicious pea is packed with protein and offers a wonderful balance to the starchiness of the rice. Cruz says this dish “tastes like home” and he is so honored to share it with the greater Sunrise community. “I appreciate and am so thankful to all the people that helped me along my 30 years of being in the food industry.”

Arroz Con Gandules con Pernil y Maduros

Arroz Con Gandules Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of medium-grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces of tomato sauce1/3 cup of sofrito
  • 1 15 ounce can of gandules (pigeon peas) drained
  • 1 packet of Goya Sazon Culantro Y Achiote
  • 1 packet of Goya Ham Flavored Concentrated Seasoning
  • Pinch of adobo seasoning
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of low chicken sodium base
  • 4-6 cups boiling water

Arroz Con Gandules Cooking Instructions:

  • Rinse rice well in water and set aside.
  • In a medium caldero or large pot, heat oil and sauté sofrito until softened. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the drained gandules, all the spices and 4 cups of water. Taste and readjust seasonings Broth should be heavily seasoned.
  • Bring to a rapid boil, then add rice and stir. You may need to add more water to ensure rice is covered by 1 inch of water. Reduce heat to a soft boil and let most of the liquid absorb and evaporate, stirring occasionally, very gently, so rice does not turn gummy.
  • Carefully mound rice towards center of pot, top with foil and cover with lid. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stir by folding rice from the bottom up, but do not disturb bottom of pan. Cook for another 20-30 minutes, testing after 20 to see if rice is tender and cooked through.

Pernil Ingredients

  • 7lb, bone-in or boneless pork shoulder
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
  • 2 fresh lemons
  • 2 fresh limes

Pernil Cooking Instructions

  • Score the fat on the pork shoulder in a crisscross hatch fashion. Then, cut deeply once in each direction across the pork, like you are going to cut it into four quarters, but then leave them attached at the bottom. Use a sharp knife to make about 20 slits, roughly 1 inch deep, all over the meat. Place the meat in a 13 x 9 baking pan, or another shallow baking pan large enough to comfortably hold the meat with some space around it.
  • Combine the oil, garlic, fresh and dried oregano, Adobo, paprika, lemon and lime Rub the mixture all over the meat, working it all over the surface and into the slits. Cover the pork with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • Bring the pork to room temperature, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300F°. Bake the pork, covered for 3 hours, then remove the foil and bake for another 3 to 4 hours at the same temperature, until the pork is fall-apart tender. The internal temperature should be at least 165°, but it may be higher, which is fine – it’s most important that the meat is super tender. If you would like a crustier exterior, turn the heat to 375°F and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the outside of the pork has a nice, browned crust.
  • Let the Pernil sit for at least 20 minutes before serving

Maduros Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 ripe plantains
  • 2 cups of vegetable oil

Maduros Cooking Instructions

  • In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Peel plantains and cut into 1-inch-thick slices. Add to the frying pan.
  • Cook on each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oil, put plantains on baking rack so that the plantain is not sitting in oil.
  • Serve warm as a side dish or appetizer.


Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

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