Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo is a dish I remember from my childhood.  Probably every nation with hispanic roots has a version of this popular dish.  From Spain, to Central and South American countries to Cuba and maybe even the Philippines has a version of this one pot meal.  Arroz con Pollo literally translates to chicken with rice.  It is usually cooked in a tomato based sauce with bell peppers, onions, garlic and spices.  Some versions use a saffron base sauce resulting in a yellow colored rice dish.   Other common ingredients to consider are green peas, carrots, and potatoes.  It is often served with lemon or lime wedges on the side, some parsley and in some instances hard boiled eggs.  Fried plantains or a fresh banana can also accompany the dish.

For this version of the dish, I used Arborio rice cooked in a tomato based sauce with onions, garlic and bell peppers along with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, saffron and fresh basil.  It may take an hour and a half to cook this dish, but it is a one pot meal that requires no other side dishes. Plus the majority of the cooking time is spent simmering the dish with an occasional stirring of the ingredients necessary.   A great dish to serve for a small group when cooking on a slow weekend afternoon.

Servings: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1.5 hours
Active Cooking Time: 40 minutes.


6-8 Chicken Pieces (legs, thighs, wings)
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
1 Yellow Onion diced
6 Garlic Cloves chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper chopped
1 Yellow Bell Pepper chopped
1lb Red Vine Tomatoes chopped
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of Saffron
1 Bay Leaf
1.5 Cups Arborio Rice
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1.5 Cups Water
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil
Parsley chopped to garnish
Lemon wedges to serve

Heat the oil in a large cast iron pot or dutch oven.  Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.  Add the chicken to the hot oil to brown the meat on all sides (about 8-10 minutes).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel.   Keep about 2 tablespoons of the oil and chicken drippings in the skillet or dutch oven and remove the excess oil.

Over high heat, add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute until onions are soft (about 3-4 minutes).  Add the green and yellow bell peppers and saute for another 3-4 minutes until the peppers are soft and the onions are translucent.  Add the tomatoes, paprika, cayenne pepper, saffron and bay leaf to the pot. Stir the ingredients together until well combined.  Add arborio rice and stir the ingredients again to combine.  Pour in the chicken broth and water to the pot.  Stir and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a mild simmer and add the basil and browned chicken pieces into the pot.   Cover the pot and cook at a slow simmer for about 50 minutes to an hour - occasionally stirring the ingredients to make sure the rice does not burn at the bottom of the pot (note: weight of the ingredients could cause the rice to burn this way).  Keep an eye on the liquids and add more water if needed.  The rice should cook to a soft but slightly wet consistency.  When cooked to your liking, serve with parsley garnished over the rice and lemon wedges on the side.

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