It’s been a hectic week of meetings, errands and driving long distances in the pouring rain. I craved some comfort food and decided to go with arroz con pollo or chicken and rice. There are a number of ways to do this Latin American dish – I have recipes for Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban versions but I’m descended from colonists, so I just took the things I liked from many different recipes.
I’m doing this particular version as I didn’t have any homemade chicken stock on hand. Normally, I would brown/cook the chicken in the Dutch oven about 8-10 minutes per side to start and then remove it to pick it from the bones. Don’t worry if it is a little pink, as it will continue cooking with the rice. Then, I would sauté the onions in the butter and would follow the rest of the directions as written from that point. You need 4 cups broth for this recipe and the seasonings I’ve put in add a ton of flavor to the chicken but feel free to use any good, low salt chicken broth.
Don’t skip rinsing the rice – trust me, it is important. It has a coating of starch that, if left on will make the dish very sticky and gummy. Additionally, by toasting the rice before adding the liquid, it should leave the final result nice and fluffy.
I used Goya Sazón. It is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking. You could make your own blend (see a recipe here) if you want to avoid the monosodium glutamate (MSG) but the Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (on the package written as con Culantro y Achiote) adds a nice flavor and pretty color to this dish. 1 tablespoon is equivalent to 3 of the individual packets.
I served the arroz con pollo with tortillas and sliced avocados.
Arroz con Pollo
1 whole chicken cut into 6-8 pieces
2 medium onions, 1 quartered and the other diced
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
1 diced green bell pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 – 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
Place the chicken in a large pot of Dutch oven with six cups of water. In a blender, add the quartered onion, celery, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Blend on high speed until pureed and then pour into the pot with the chicken. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.
Remove chicken from the pot and pour the liquid through a strainer to remove the solids. Once the chicken cools enough to handle, remove skin and bones and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Measure out 4 cups of chicken broth.
Return pot to the stove and melt the butter. Add diced onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until rice begin to toast, about 2 minutes.
Pour in chicken broth and stir in the bell pepper, can of tomatoes (with the juice) and reserved chicken. Bring to a low boil. Cook, covered, until the rice has absorbed the liquid, 25 to 30 minutes.
Stir in the pimentos and let stand off the heat for 10 minutes before serving. Scrape the bottom of the pot when portioning out, as the crunchy, caramelized rice has fabulous flavor.