Arroz con Pollo (Cuban Chicken with Rice)

4 Feb

That last post of Alice’s was a very heartwarming one for me. My Dad, who just passed away last summer, was a wonderful cook. He could make the simplest dishes taste so amazingly good. The chicken with okra was one dish that he made very well and he taught me how to make it about a year ago. It felt like things were coming full circle to have my dear friend Alice cook a dish for this blog that was my dearly beloved Dad’s. He would have enjoyed that so much!

Thank you Amy for the beautiful photos!

I’m continuing the theme of chicken and rice, which is a staple in Latin America, with my arroz con pollo. Translated from Spanish, it quite simply means “rice with chicken”, but it is ever so much more than simple. The flavors are full, the dish is comforting and it’s a one dish meal. What could be better for a cold winter’s night?

Something I learned from my Dad in the preparation of his delicious Brazilian dishes is to always marinate your meat. Even it if is just for a short time. I marinated my chicken for about 30 minutes, while I was preparing the rest of the ingredients.

It’s a simple marinade of vinegar, garlic, onions, salt, pepper and oregano.

In most Latin cooking, the dish begins with “sofrito“. It is a combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut into small pieces and slowly sauteed in cooking oil for 15-30 minutes. In Cuban cuisine, sofrito is made up of onions, garlic and green bell pepper.

Sauteing these ingredients adds a rich flavor base to the dish. And the colors are so beautiful together! They look good enough to eat.

First, I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then I placed the chicken in a single layer in the hot pan. Brown your chicken in more than one batch if you have too much to fit in the pan all at once.

Turn each piece so it browns on all sides, cooking for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and keep warm in a bowl.

Then make the sofrito, adding the onions first for about five minutes until they begin softening. I then added chorizo to add a little more flavor.

After that, the garlic and green pepper can go in. Add your paprika, oregano, bay leaf and cumin, then taste for seasoning. If it tastes a bit bland, feel free to add a few more shakes of cumin, paprika, black pepper or salt. Add just a little at a time, as it is easier to add more seasonings than it is to remove them. Let the green pepper soften a bit before you toss in the tomatoes. Let that all cook together for about 15 minutes, while the sofrito cooks and the tomatoes soften and release some juice, stirring frequently.

Add the uncooked rice along with the chicken broth and beer, mix well.

When your liquid comes to a light boil, add your chicken to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and cover.

Let it cook, covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is done. Give it a few minutes to rest, then serve.

Arroz Con Pollo (Cuban Chicken with Rice)
adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Ingredients
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
6 chicken drumsticks or pieces of your choice
3 oz Spanish chorizo (cured sausage) cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 bay leaves
1 lb tomatoes, chopped
1 (12-oz) bottle beer (not dark)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups long-grain white rice

Marinate chicken:
Mash garlic to a paste with 2 teaspoons salt, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in vinegar and oregano. Add a handful of chopped onions and chicken, toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Cook chicken and rice:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, add chicken in a single layer in the pan. Brown the chicken in two batches if you cannot fit them all in at the same time. Turn each piece so they brown on all sides, cooking for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and keep warm in a bowl.

Cook onions in the pan for about five minutes, until softened. Feel free to add a little oil to the pan if there isn’t enough after browning the chicken. Add the chorizo to the onions and allow to cook for a few minutes.

After that, the garlic and green pepper can go in. Add the paprika, oregano, bay leaf and cumin, then taste for seasoning. If it tastes a bit bland, feel free to add a few more shakes of cumin, paprika, black pepper or salt. Add just a little at a time, as it is easier to add more seasonings if needed, than it is to remove them. Let the green pepper soften a bit before you toss in the tomatoes. Let that all cook together for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, while the tomatoes soften and release some juice.

Stir in the rice, chicken broth and beer, return the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan with a tight fitting lid and let it cook until the rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for five minutes before serving.

Ok, Alice. Where are you taking us now?

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One Response to “Arroz con Pollo (Cuban Chicken with Rice)”

  1. foodcompanion 06/02/2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Looks wonderful. Love arroz con pollo.

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