The Perfect Puerto Rican Dinner

Welcome back to Hill's Kitchen. This time around, the kitchen hit the road in search of some ethnic cuisine and landed at Ally Balcerzak's apartment for a taste of real Puerto Rican food.

There’s a certain smell that accompanies a Puerto Rican kitchen when it’s being used properly, usually a combination of garlic and onion because we put that stuff in practically everything we make. Ask any Hispanic you know about their childhood memories, and chances are they’ll begin talking about the food during holiday season. So when my friend Chris walked into my house that night and said, “Oh my

Now, I am by no means an expert at it. My mother and grandmother still handle most of the holiday cooking despite making me watch them for the past 22 years. But it really isn’t that hard to get in touch with your inner Rican when it comes to cooking, I promise.


Roast Pork

What you need:

4-5lb bone-in pork roast (about half a pound per person plus some for leftovers)

1 head of garlic, chopped (a jar of minced works too)

Black pepper

Meat thermometer


What you do:

The night before or morning of when you’re planning to cook the pork, take a sharp knife and stab the roast as many times as you can, taking care to get every side (now would be a good time to get in touch with your inner Dexter). Then take the garlic, rub it over the entire roast, making sure you get pieces into the slits, and top it off with the pepper. Let the roast sit in your fridge all day and then pull it out when you’re ready to start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees. While you’re waiting for it to warm up, grease a shallow pan with sides (for the sake of your oven, DO NOT use a cookie sheet) and place the roast in it, fattest side facing up. Once the oven is preheated, place the pork on the center rack for 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll want to check the meat’s temperature around the hour mark. The pork needs to hit a minimum temp of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be served. A 4lb roast will take about 1.5 to 2 hours, but it will ultimately depend on your oven. Once the roast has hit the proper temp, pull it out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before carving.


Roast Pork

Photo: Antoinette Siu


Red Beans

What you need:

1 29oz can of Goya Red Kidney Beans

1 cup of Onion, diced

4 cloves of Garlic, chopped (minced in a jar works here too)

2 packets of Sazón con Achiote

½ cup of Tomato Sauce seasoned with garlic, basil and oregano (this is different from spaghetti sauce)

Garlic salt


3 tbsp. Olive Oil


What you do:

Put the olive oil in a deep skillet or pot to heat up. When it begins to glisten add the onion and garlic, sauté until the onion begins to caramelize. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and Sazón, stir. Then add oregano and garlic salt to taste. Bring the skillet to a low boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.



What you need:

3 cups of Riceland white rice (half a cup per person)

6 cups of water

Pinch of salt


What you do:

Bring the water and salt to a boil. Then add the rice and let the pot come back up to a simmer. Once the pot is simmering again, cover it and leave it alone for 15 minutes. Once time is up, pull the pot off the heat and let it sit, covered until you are ready to serve. The trick with rice is to let the moisture soak into the grain so it is soft. If you lift the lid too soon, you’re going to have a bad time.

This meal is best served with good friends and Celia Cruz so make sure to turn up your Spotify radio and call some classmates. ¡Buen provecho!


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