I have a long list of favorite comfort foods, and arroz con pollo is definitely in the top ten, right up there with homemade biscuits, Ajiaco Bogotáno, mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, warm fresh bread, my grandmother's fried chicken, and...I could go on for a while!
Arroz con pollo is basically a variation on paella, and the recipe varies depending on location, but the basic ingredients and preparation are the same. Chicken is browned and cooked with peppers and onions, then beer, wine, and chicken stock (in varying proportions) are added and brought to a boil, and then rice is cooked in the liquids. Saffron is typically used for color and flavor, though annatto seeds are substituted in some parts of Latin America, which is how I fix it. Many grocery stores now have international foods, and annatto seeds can usually be found in the Hispanic foods section. I hope I'll have some of my own saffron to try out in the dish next fall.
Traditional arroz con pollo calls for green peas, and some recipes have capers, olives, pimientos, cilantro, and other things to stir in at the end. I like to add the pimientos and cilantro, though I'll occasionally add olives for a little variety, and I like to squeeze a little lime juice over the rice when serving. This a great one pot meal, though you can find many recipes that finish it in the oven once the rice is brought to a boil.
This classic comfort food is my contribution to the Monthly Mingle hosted by the fabulous Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey? The theme is comfort foods, perfect for cold winter nights, so be sure so check out the round-up!
Arroz Con Pollo
- large bowl or casserole
- 8 quart stock pot with lid
- 3 pound whole chicken (cut into pieces, breasts cut in half)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lime (juiced)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons anatto seeds
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 green or red pepper (diced)
- 1 roasted red pepper (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 small tomato (chopped)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 12 ounces beer
- ½ cup sherry
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups rice (rinsed until the water runs clear)
- 6 ounces chopped pimientos (optional)
- ¼ cup pimiento-stuffed olives (sliced (optional))
- 1 cup canned peas (optional)
- ¼ cup capers (drained (optional))
- cilantro leaves (optional)
- lime wedges
- Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl or casserole. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the lime juice over the chicken. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in the stock pot. Add the annatto seeds, cooking until the release their color and start to crackle and pop. Remove the seeds with a strainer and discard.
- Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and cook over medium-high heat until brown. Turn the pieces over and cook the other side until brown. Remove the chicken from the pot and put on a plate, covering to keep it warm.
- Add the onions, green pepper, red pepper, and garlic to the pot. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomato sauce, chopped tomato, cumin, and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken, wine, beer, and sherry and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. If there is still a lot of liquid in the pot, then remove the lid for the last 5 minutes or so of cooking.
- Stir in pimientos, olives, capers, peas, cilantro as desired. Serve with lime wedges and squeeze some of the juice over the rice.