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Make Yummy Habichuelas at Home with this Easy Recipe

Puerto Rican Arroz con Habichuelas, Rice and BeansPuerto Rican food comes from a mix of 3 cultures — Spanish, Taino Indian and African. Accordingly, many of the "staples" of Puerto Rican cooking have their roots in basic home-cooking, using many things that people had available on their farm (finca) or could obtain easily and cheaply. This food is healthy, yet inexpensive and hardy. It is old-fashioned, down-home, country cooking.

My favorite Puerto Rican dish is Arroz con Habichuelas, or rice and beans. The beans are actually a stew, with potatoes, squash, other veggies, some ham and, of course, beans. I eat this, served over rice, for a meal whenever I can find it.

Lots of people here in PR make Habichuelas, some are better than others (I know because I have tried a lot!). So it was only a matter of time that I was able to get a recipe that I loved. I got this recipe from a local woman (thanks SMS!) and it’s really easy and delicious. I will tell you I am a horrible cook, yet I gave it a try, and it came out great the first time! So if I can do it, so can you!

You may have to poke around in the ethnic aisle of your supermarket for some of the ingredients. This recipe will feed about 12 people as a side dish or 6 people as a main dish. Vegetarians can make this without the ham (and using vegetable stock instead of ham stock) and it still tastes great. I have adjusted the recipe for my preferences — since I like my habichuelas very thick, I "stew" it an hour or more. If you want a thinner stew, just don’t simmer it as long! Experiment a little with the recipe until it is "perfect" for you.

Habichuelas (Stewed Beans)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 4" x 6" piece of smoked ham (the pink salty stuff), cubed (if the piece you buy has a bone, drop in the bone to for flavor — remove before eating!).
  • 1 cooking green pepper “Cubanelle” or “Italian frying peppers” (NOT hot), diced small (these are the long light-green ones, NOT Bell peppers)
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 cans (use 16 oz cans) beans (pink/rosado, red or pinto) boiled in water and salt. I like pink beans (rosados) the best. The can label should say some kind of liquid with beans are in. Just be careful not to get the ones cooked in tomato sauce or "ready to eat".
  • 2 ham or chicken broth bouillon cubes, diluted in 1 cup water (we’re able to find Calabaza y Jamón flavor)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, NOT paste
  • ½ teaspoon dry oregano leaves
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 4" x 6" piece of cooking pumpkin/squash/calabaza, cubed (with or without skin)

Ingredients for Puerto Rican Arroz con Habichuelas, Rice and Beans

  1. Using a deep stock pot, heat the oil over a medium heat and sauté the ham, until it starts to get a light golden color on some of it. Add the garlic, stir in, add the diced green peppers and the onion. Stir frequently to avoid burning. This process should take 5 minutes. The onions will become translucent and it will begin to smell good!
  2. Add the beans with their liquid, the diluted broth, the tomato sauce, and the oregano. Stir to mix. Let it boil at medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cubed potatoes and pumpkin. Stir. Lower the heat to Low — do not cover — and let it simmer until the potatoes and pumpkin are tender and the sauce thickens (about 45 to 60 minutes). If, when you add the potatoes and pumpkin there is not enough liquid, add water little by little until there is enough to cover everything. If the sauce does not thicken enough, simmer longer (or if you are in a hurry, mash 2 or 3 extra pieces of the potatoes or pumpkin and add to the pot).
  4. Correct the seasoning — You can add salt if needed, a little ground black pepper (if you like) and if it tastes a little acid, add ½ teaspoon of sugar.

Serve over white rice as a meal or side dish. Disfrute! Enjoy! assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 12 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

yes, everything goes in, no need to rinse

Comment by Gwenn on 09 Apr 2021

Was looking to see whether I should rinse the canned beans, washing out the liquid it comes in or to leave the entire contents. Noticed on this recipe you put all contents, correct?

Comment by Odette D Del Rio on 07 Apr 2021

This is fantastic. I add Sazon and more garlic. I make this all the time.d

Comment by Louisa Szewczuk on 12 Feb 2020

I agree with Anonymous' post Oct 6, 2012. This appears to be missing sofrito but it really isn't. But in addition to adding culantro and cilantro, you should also try chopped up capers and olives with pimientos. It isn't the same without them! I do use bell peppers and I both finely dice and coarsley chop my veggies because I like my beans thick and hearty. I add some chopped cilantro, lime or lemon juice and green onions as garnish. Also, don't be so picky about the beans. Sometimes I use combinations of pinto, red beans, pink beans, black beans, chick peas, pigeon peas, black eye peas and kidney beans. They also taste incredible! -Another Puerto Rican chef.

Comment by Charles Mallory on 20 May 2014

Habechuelas are actually a pretty healthy food- high in protein and fiber. Not too fatty, but it is salty. Of course it is the rice that is the problem, but I make it thicker, and eat it as a stew without the rice.

Comment by Gwenn on 23 Jan 2014

No wonder there is a very high incidence of overweight and diabetes on the Puerto Rican island. This food and the qty. you eat is a real problem!!!

Comment by Jose Cappello on 22 Jan 2014

For me if there's no recaito and cilantro, then it's not Puerto Rican style habichuelas rojas!

Comment by BarsaUSA on 22 Jan 2014

So delicious !!! I added culantro at boiling stage. Thank you for sharing your recipe!!

Comment by Gabi on 04 Dec 2012

My initial reaction was, "No sofrito?!" But if you look at the ingredients, they include all the core elements of sofrito --- mild/sweet peppers, onions, garlic. I would throw in some culantro (recao), and my beloved cilantro. I'm going to try this recipe out and suprise my wife. Hopefully they don't come out better than hers. :-) Great Puerto Rican cooking is fabulous, but one problem is that there are not enough recipes available. Everything is kinda passed on through experience, and nothing is measured, which drives me crazy. Thanks for a recipe that I can work with, and make an attempt.

Comment by Anonymous on 06 Oct 2012

Thanks so much for the recipe. As the previous comment said, it was a good base and allowed me to add my own touch. I especially appreciated the illustration. As a visual cook, It made the recipe even easier. :D

Comment by Maria Santiago-Petkanas on 30 Oct 2011

I'm with you Marilyn! I added sofrito and adobo to mine, it came out so good and truly authentic!! Reminds me of being a young girl eating at my best friends house. Her mom would make this dish especially for me with platanos!! It was a good base and allowed for me to add my own expression!! Thanks!

Comment by Robyn on 20 Aug 2011

Where is the sofrito...y the adobo????

Comment by Marilyn Villamil on 04 Oct 2010

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