I cant remember the first time I had Arroz Con Pollo. I know it was in Cuba and I must have been like 3 years old when I first ate it. Its been such an integral part of our household recipe books that its origins get lost to time. But the flavors are there to remind us of the warm comfort of family. In essence, that’s what this dish is all about, sharing it with family.
Start with the chicken, each piece is already portioned, seared and braised in the pot, along with rice, garlic, peas, bell peppers and tomato paste. No matter how you dress it, it is undeniably a family meal. Everyone sits together, and when served family style they portion and serve each other pieces of chicken and rice, and like the flavors inside, the flavors of the chicken strengthen the flavors of the rice, and the spices complement both. It is a family meal at its core, because family does the same: support and complement one another.
On its Family
This dish also has its own family. It belongs to the same group of slow simmered rices like Risotto, Jambalaya, and Paella. Each stemming from a different country and a different culture, each one of these culinary cultures arrived at something similar with dishes like these. They are wonderfully comforting and filling.
Notes on Cooking:
Use whole Garlic cloves. Roast them in the pan after you sear the chicken. They will be tender and develop a nutty flavor at the end when served with the rice. No spicy or overwhelming garlic flavor.
Use frozen peas and add them at the end. They will warm through with the heat of the beer (there’s beer in this recipe) and will be tender when you bite them. If you cook them at the beginning, they will turn a green-gray mushy mess. And that’s no fun.
Add the beer. This is Cuban after all. And its called a la chorrera which means (runny). The trick is not to overcook the rice, so when you add the beer, the rice is still tender, but not mushy, and as the starch releases. It will be a wonderfully thick flavor bomb in your mouth.
On the rice: Use Valencia Rice or Bomba rice if possible. Its a short grain high starch rice that can take the cooking time and still be tender and full of flavor.
On the chicken: For the chicken in the rice, use boneless breasts, thighs, etc. Remove the skin. That will avoid a fatty texture if you happen to find it in your fork. For Crunchy skin, roast thighs and legs in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes, I used a cast iron skillet to sear them first in the stove and then finish roasting them in the pan.
- 2 to 3 lbs. Chicken pieces: thighs, breasts, drumsticks
- 8 cloves of garlic roasted in the pan
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 1 bell pepper (red or yellow diced)
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 6oz frozen peas
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Pepper
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp. Cumin
- 1 tsp. Oregano
- 2 cups dry white wine or lemon juice
- 2 cup chicken stock or water
- Olive oil
- 3 cups rice Bomba or Valencia
- 3 or 4 threads of saffron – crushed
- 1 – 8 oz. beer
- Brown chicken in large frying pan in olive oil – remove to a large pot after they’re browned.
- Sauté onion & pepper in the frying pan with garlic. When translucent, add them to the pot.
- Then add tomato paste, salt, pepper, bay leaf, cumin, oregano.
- Pour in the rice and stir everything together.
- Add the liquids, chicken stock or water
- Add Saffron to liquid.
- Bring to a boil, then lower to a fast simmer.
- Add water as needed. To cover the rice until tender
- Cook on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes.
- Add Frozen peas
- Add 8 0z. of beer to the finished rice