(Somewhat Deconstructed) Arroz con Pollo
The first time I ever had Arroz con Pollo, it was a Cuban preparation, a la chorrera, which is a soupier version in which the rice is cooked with the chicken (as it usually is) and turns out almost like risotto with a little less liquid in it. And it was delicious.
As I’ve made it my own way over the years, I’ve tweaked it to my preferences, which is still to recreate those delicious flavors, but to cook the rice separate from the chicken, and then to spoon the yummy chicken sauce over the rice. I like how the rice holds its texture better this way, and I like how both the sauce and rice take on a more distinct flavor in this preparation.
So to make my Arroz con Pollo, you’re going to make this recipe for a chicken stew and then also my recipe for Garlic Yellow Rice:
Another thing I usually make with this dish is quickled red onions (Cebollas Rojas Encurtidas), and everyone enjoys both the flavor and texture contrast it brings to the dish:
This makes a great Sunday dinner type meal with some fried plantains and avocado salad to go with. 🙂
- 3 pounds chicken pieces (We like skin-on, but you can do skin off)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 small bell pepper, minced (I like the sweeter red, orange and yellow ones for this recipe.)
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 packet sazon con azafran (I use Goya brand.)
- 1 cup canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, pureed all ok)
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup frozen peas
Season chicken with the 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and then dust with 2 Tablespoons of flour.
Then, in a 4 to 5 quart pot, bring 1 Tablespoon oil up to medium high heat, then brown chicken for 3 to 4 minutes per side and set aside. You’ll probably want to break this up into two batches so you don’t crowd your cooking surface.
If you used skin-on chicken, you’ll have a bit of rendered chicken fat left in your pot. Remove all but about 1 Tablespoon and add your onion, pepper, and garlic and sweat the mixture until the onions are translucent. (This Holy Trinity base of Latin cooking is called refrito or sofrito, depending on the region)
If you didn’t use skin on, you’ll want to add up to another (1) Tablespoon of oil to the pot.
Add your sazon packet and mix it in.
Add tomatoes, stock, and bay leaf and give it a couple of good stirs.
Add in your chicken, turn the heat down to medium, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and ensuring that the heat doesn’t get so hot that the chicken is boiling or the sauce is burning on the bottom of the pan. You can check for that by scraping the cooking surface with your cooking spoon and seeing if you get any solids accumulating.)
During this first part of the simmer, you’ll want to start the knifework for your Garlic Yellow Rice. (Link to that recipe is above.)
After 20 minutes, flip the chicken pieces, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer, covered, for another 20 minutes or so. About 10 minutes into this second simmer, you’ll want to adjust seasoning if needed.
At this point, you’ll be able to move on to the cooking part of the Garlic Yellow Rice.
After the second simmer, stir in your peas, then cut the heat.
Once the rice is done, plate the rice, topped with a piece or two of chicken and a healthy drizzle of the sauce.
If you made the quickled onions to go with, put a little of those on top and garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro if you like.
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