Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Arroz Con Pollo

One of my husband's absolute favorite dishes is arroz con pollo. For years, he begged me to make it for him on a regular basis and though I tried many times, I could never find a recipe that I thought was a keeper. For example, Tyler Florence's recipe is perfectly serviceable, except that it calls for way too much cumin and I disliked the consistency of the chicken. I have also tried recipes that call for the addition of beer like this one, which really did not work for me as the alcohol overwhelms the taste of the dish. I think the problem is that arroz con pollo is such a staple in so many latino households, that every family has their own recipe, which varies not only by taste but also by each family's regional roots.

I finally hit upon the perfect recipe for my husband's and my tastes when I took matters into my own hands and created a recipe that is a hybrid of two recipes -- a 2007 recipe from Gourmet highlighted on Smitten Kitchen and an America's Test Kitchen recipe. Both recipes had aspects I liked and disliked so I had a lot to draw from. My version of arroz con pollo, which I fully admit likely is not very authentic, makes a lot -- we ate this for 3 days straight and still had some leftover. This is the type of recipe that gets better overnight so leftovers are not a problem.
Arroz Con Pollo


1 3 1/2 - 4lbs whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
ground black pepper
3 1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 green, red, yellow, or orange pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
3 cups long grain rice
1/2 cup green olives stuffed with jalepenos, halved
2 Tbsp capers
1/2 cup jarred pimentos, cut into strips


1. Mash one-half the minced garlic with 2 tsp of salt, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon oregano. Toss chicken with marinade until coated and marinate, covered and chilled, for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and the rest of the garlic. Saute until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add cumin, cayenne, oregano, paprika, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of cilantro and stir to combine.

4. Push vegetables to side of the pot and add half the chicken pieces skin side down. Increase heat to medium high heat. Cook without moving chicken, until outer layer becomes opaque, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and cook on second side until opaque, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove chicken to a platter. Repeat same process with remaining chicken pieces.

5. Add rice to the vegetables and saute together for 30 seconds. Add broth, tomato sauce, and water; stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.

6. Lower heat to medium low heat. Scatter olives and capers. Nestle chicken pieces throughout the rice. Cover pot with parchment paper and a tight lid. Allow to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. If liquid seems to evaporate too quickly, add a small amount of chicken broth.

7. Once the chicken and rice are cooked through, turn off heat. Remove chicken pieces from pot. Remove chicken skin and discard. Using two spoons, remove the meat from the bones and discard bones. Toss chicken meat with remaining cilantro, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons vinegar, and salt to taste.

8. Add the chicken back to the rice and stir. Scatter pimento strips. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste if necessary.

Makes 6-10 servings.

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