Arroz Blanco
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Arroz Blanco

How to make perfect Puerto Rican white rice.

Feb 06, 2024

By: Milena Pagán | @littlesisterpvd

In Puerto Rico, Arroz Blanco is an ever-present fixture at every dinner table. There is even an expression referencing its ubiquity: being like white rice means to be present at every party. While we love white rice for its ability to bulk up a meal for a family and give us fuel for the day, a properly seasoned white rice can also enhance the flavors of whatever dish it is served with. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity, as making excellent rice is the mark of a good cook and it comes down to proper technique, patience and the right vessel.

In Puerto Rico, where Arroz Blanco has attained an iconic status, the historical fusion of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno influences is evident in the island's cuisine. The techniques and ingredients used in preparing arroz blanco reflect this amalgamation, with the use of aromatic spices, such as Adobo, and the cooking vessels like the cast iron pot or aluminum caldero showcasing the influence of both European and African culinary traditions.

Arroz Blanco in a bowl
I prepare my rice in a very old-fashioned way using a classic cast iron pot with a lid, olive oil, garlic and Adobo. Lots of folks love a cast-aluminum caldero, which are inexpensive, readily available, and tend to develop a gorgeous patina over the years. If the dish I am serving it with is extra-hearty, frying up the garlic in bacon fat or tocino instead of olive oil is a delicious tweak. Remember: fluffy and grainy rice mostly cooks itself, so resist the urge to stir the pot and just let it be. If you're left with some extra rice in your caldero, there's a variety of ways you can use your leftovers.

A great use of leftover rice is making Arroz Mamposteao, a Puerto Rican specialty that involves sautéing the rice with a medley of ingredients such as beans, vegetables, and protein (like ham or chorizo). The result is a flavorful and hearty dish that breathes new - and delicious - life into your leftover rice. My personal favorite way to use leftover arroz blanco is cooking up some Puerto Rican-style fried rice. Similar to Arroz Mamposteao, all you do is simply sauté your rice with a mix of vegetables, protein, and traditional seasonings like sofrito for a delightful twist on the classic fried rice.

Arroz blanco with pollo al horno and habichuelas negrasIf you're looking for different ways to store your arroz blanco, the most straightforward method is to place your rice in an airtight container and refrigerate it. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature before transferring it to the container to prevent condensation, which can make the rice mushy. Stored properly, refrigerated white rice can last for 4-6 days. For longer storage, consider freezing arroz blanco. Portion the rice into individual servings or family-sized portions, placing them in freezer-safe bags or containers. To reheat, thaw the rice in the refrigerator overnight and then heat it in a microwave or on the stovetop.

Arroz Blanco, with its simplicity and adaptability, continues to be one of my favorite side dishes to pair with different proteins and guisados, like Bistec Encebollado and Pollo Guisado. It comes together so quickly and it’s easily shareable whether you’re cooking for a small group or a large celebration. I hope you enjoy this recipe and keep it in your back pocket. ¡Buen Provecho!