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STEP 1: Soak the beans and bay leaf for 6-8 hours in 6-8 cups of water or broth; you want about 1 inch of liquid on top of the beans. I recommend soaking your beans for no more than 8 hours. You can soak at room temperature.
STEP 2: After you soak the beans, bring beans to boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 1-2 hours or until beans are tender and soft. The last half hour that your beans are cooking you can begin to make your sofrito (see below), or once the beans are done cooking you can turn the heat off and allow the beans to sit while you cook your sofrito. It’s just up to your advancement level of cooking and preference. REMOVE THE BAY LEAF BUT DO NOT DRAIN THE BEANS. The liquid is essential to the recipe!
STEP 3: How to make Sofrito (for 1 pound beans): Sofrito in spanish means sauce -- very traditional in many of the main staple foods in Puerto Rico: Add oil to a medium skillet and place over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add in onion, green pepper, cilantro and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent and green peppers soften, about 3-5 minutes. Bring heat to low and add tomato sauce, sazon and simmer for 2-3 minutes until sauce comes together. Add your sofrito to the beans (remember you were not supposed to drain the beans) and simmer uncovered over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the spices infuse with the beans. After that, turn the bean off and cover so that they keep the heat while you finish making everything else. They should stay hot enough for an hour or so.
STEP 4: While the beans are simmering with sofrito, start making the rice: Add oil to a medium pot and place over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add in onion, green pepper, cilantro and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent and green peppers soften, about 3-5 minutes. Bring heat to medium-low and add tomato sauce, sazon and adobo and simmer for 2 minutes until sauce comes together. Next add in entire can of pigeon peas (with the liquid -- DO NOT DRAIN) and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, stir in 2 cups of rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
STEP 5: Once beans and rice are done, taste both and adjust seasonings as necessary, including adding more salt.
How to serve: add rice and beans to a bowl with extra sauce from the beans, garnish with cilantro and a few avocado slices. You can also add hot sauce if you like a little heat. Serves 6.