Skip to main content

Día de Reyes: A Time for Friends, Feasts, and Food Safety

Posted by Luis Rivera, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA in Health and Safety
Feb 21, 2017
Image of rice with chicken on plate.
Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) is a traditional dish of Spain and Latin America.

Nothing brings people together like the Holidays, or Navidades for us Spanish speakers.  Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day) would not be complete without some excellent eats. Many Hispanic-Americans have a favorite dish during this special season – from lechón to pasteles to tamales to atole.

Nothing brings a party down like poor food safety though.  No one wants to be down for the count during this time of the year–think of all the parties that will be missed! With the information we’ve given you over the last several weeks, you should be able to cook a food safe feast.  So put your knowledge to the test with these Hispanic treats for Día de Reyes, this January 6th.

¡Feliz Día de los Tres Reyes Magos!

Arroz con Pollo: Your Guests will love it

Everyone loves arroz con pollo! Not exaggerating, just being factual. Here’s a recipe for the Holidays that will definitely have your guest coming back for more. (Servings: 8 )


3       lbs. chicken; cut into smaller chunks
2 ½   cups short grained white rice
5       tsp. salt
3       Tbsp. Annatto (Achiote) or Olive oil
1       oz. bacon; cooked and cubed
2       oz. cooking ham; cubed
1/3   cup onion; thinly diced
1       medium Cubanelle pepper; chopped
3       sweet pepper; chopped
1       medium tomato; chopped
1       Tbsp. Capers; sliced
8       green olives; seeded
3       medium garlic cloves; crushed
½       cup tomato sauce
1        tsp. fresh oregano or ¼ tsp. dried oregano
2 ½    cups water
4 oz.  jar of sweet red peppers (pimientos morrones); sliced


Food Safety Must: Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before you begin cooking. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of foodborne illness.

1. Stir-fry the bacon and ham in the olive oil using a medium pot over medium low heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add onion, Cubanelle pepper, and sweet peppers and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
3. Add tomato, capers, olives, tomato sauce, oregano and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
4. Add chicken, cover, and cook at low heat for 10 minutes. Halfway through (at the 5 minute mark) turn chicken, cover and allow continuing cooking (approximately 5 more minutes).

Food Safety Must: The chicken is done when it’s reached an internal temperature of 165 °F as measured by a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the poultry.

5. Rinse rice under running water until water runs clear. Rinse once more.
6. Add 2 ½ cups of water to pot and add rice. Bring to a boil.
7. Lower to medium heat. Cook uncovered until the Surface of the rice no longer has any foam.
8. Stir the rice from the bottom up. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.
9. Stir rice thoroughly, cover, and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Once done, use a fork to fluff the rice and separate the grains prior to serving.
10.  After serving decorate the rice by placing strips of Pimientos Morrones over it.

Arroz con Gandules y Costillas de Cerdo: The King of your Holiday Meal Table

Across Spanish-speaking homes in the United States, rice is king. And during this Holiday season, that is no exception. This recipe will certainly rule your festivities during this special season. (Servings: 6-8)


2 ¼   cups short grained white rice
2       Tbsp. Annatto (achiote) or Vegetable oil
2       oz. cooking ham; cubed
1/3    cup onion; chopped
1       medium Cubanelle pepper; chopped
1       medium tomato; chopped
3       small sweet peppers; chopped
2       medium garlic cloves; crushed
¼      cup tomato sauce
1       tsp. fresh oregano or ¼ tsp. dried oregano
1       tsp. salt
1       lbs. pork ribs; sliced into pairs
3       cups water
4       leaves cilantro; chopped
1       lbs. fresh pigeon peas (gandules); boiled or 2 (20 oz.) cans of pigeon peas; boiled and drained


1. Stir-fry ham in oil in a deep pot for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add onions, tomato, sweet peppers, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt.  Cook for another 5 minutes.
2. Raise temperature to medium-high. Add ribs and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
3. Add water and cilantro. Cover and cook over low heat for 30-45 minutes or until ribs are tender.

Food Safety Must: Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your ribs when you think they’re done. They’re ready when they’ve reached a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F; allow them to rest for 3 minutes for juices to settle before carving.

4. Rinse rice under running water until water runs clear. Rinse once more.  Add rice and pigeon peas to pan and raise heat to medium-high until the water boils.
5. Once contents of the pot boil reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until liquid inside the pot reaches the same level as the rice.
6. Reduce heat to low, stir rice thoroughly, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes.
7. Stir rice once more and pile into a small mount. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.
8. Before serving, use a fork to fluff the rice and separate the grains.
9. To ensure food safety, separate any leftovers into small containers before refrigerating.

Food Safety Must: When reheating leftovers make sure your ribs heat to 165 °F as measured by a food thermometer before you enjoy them again.

Recipes credit (adapted):
Romano, D., Romano, J., Cocine Conmigo. Edición 33, 2010.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Rhina Alonzo
Jan 06, 2015

Great work the food has to be colorful for us to feel hungry.