Somehow, it seems that I never managed to make arroz con pollo. It just never appeared on the “to do” list. Obviously, this was a terrible oversight on my part. Now that I’ve made it, I’m not quite sure how I got by without it all these years.
I realized that I’d made this oversight this past week, (Okay, so I was watching Top Chef and one of the chefs made Spanish arroz con pollo. Top Chef is one of my guilty pleasures.) and started to research recipes. I looked at Spanish versions, Cuban versions, and all sorts of other variations. Some recipes called for a ton of peppers, some, none at all. Some called for long grain rice, others, short-grain. Some used saffron, some annatto, and some turmeric. A few versions called for olives, and I even came across a recipe that used beer. After my research, I then decided to compile snippets of each recipe and make my own. It leans towards Cuban, but I won’t attest to its authenticity, as I’m not Cuban and have not had the pleasure of enjoying any Cuban food other than what has come out of my own kitchen. (Someone should really help me rectify this…are there any good Cuban restaurants in Dallas? Can someone fly me somewhere where there are good Cuban restaurants, please?) But regardless of origin, it was a hit with my husband and me. We ate until our bellies were full, enamored by the flavorful, slightly sticky Valencia rice with its aroma of saffron and tomato. The chicken was tender and echoed the same flavors as the rice. The jarred roasted red peppers added a perfect piquant punch that complemented the creamy, sticky rice.
Comfort food at its finest. We’ll be having this again, I promise!
Arroz con Pollo (gluten-free, dairy-free)
1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 parts
1 t dried oregano
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t black pepper
3/4 t kosher salt
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive or coconut oil
1 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c tomato puree
1 c white wine
3 c chicken stock
1/4 t saffron threads
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb Valencia or other short-grain rice (Arborio is an acceptable substitute)
1 c frozen green peas, thawed
Jarred roasted red peppers, for garnish (optional)
Blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Toss the chicken in a large bowl with the oregano, cumin, pepper, salt, and red wine vinegar. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil to medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or other casserole dish. Brown chicken pieces all over, 2-3 minutes per side. (I did this in batches) Set chicken aside on a platter.
Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the remaining oil in the Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for another minute. Add back the chicken, wine, chicken stock, and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the rice in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Drain. When the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, add the rice and stir in. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. (If you peek in on it and it seems too dry, you can add a bit of water and stir.) When it’s just about finished, stir in the peas.
Garnish with roasted red peppers and serve.