In Puerto Rico, cooks use fresh pigeon peas, which aren't readily available in the mainland United States. The dried variety can take up to two days of soaking, but you can substitute 1/2 pound of brown lentils, which can be cooked right out of the bag in only 45 minutes.
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1/2 pound dried pigeon peas (1 1/2 cups, see Note), soaked for 2 days and
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup Classic Sofrito
4 large cilantro sprigs
One 2-ounce piece of smoked ham
1 pound calabaza or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into
1-by-1/4-inch matchsticks (1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the pigeon peas with the stock, water, Classic Sofrito, cilantro and ham and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 2 hours. Add the squash and simmer until it is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the ham, cut it into 1/2-inch pieces and return to the stew. Discard the cilantro sprigs and serve.
The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Dried pigeon peas are available at Latin markets or by mail order from Earthy Delights; 800-367-4709).
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