Arroz con Pollo
Growing up in Miami, it seemed like every time I spent any time with any of my Cuban friends, I would end up eating Aroz Con Pollo. Each mom prided herself on cooking the dish just like their Abuela made back in Cuba. All of them were delightful. I found this recipe on NYT Cooking and thought it looked even better than mine. So I deduced to go for an integration of the two.
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 Tbs Tajin spice
1 Tbs Adobo spice
For the Chicken and Rice:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cups medium-grain white rice
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or water)
2 ½ to 3 cups fresh sofrito (see recipe below)
3 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup tomato sauce
¾ cup medium pimento-stuffed olives, drained
2 teaspoons drained capers
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 lime, cut into wedges
Salted, sliced avocado and tomato, for serving
For the Sofrito:
6 mini peppers seeded and coarsely chopped
6 large garlic cloves
2 plumb tomatoes, ripe and coarsely chopped
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
- Prepare the adobo marinade by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl, or blending in a small food processor.
- Pat the chicken dry, then place in a large zip-top bag. Toss chicken and marinated well to combine, then seal the bag, and let the chicken rest in the fridge. Marinate for several hours or overnight to make the chicken extra tender and flavorful but for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Prepare the sofrito: In a food processor or blender, blend each ingredient till smooth than repeat for each ingredient the peppers and garlic until smooth. Add the onion and blend until smooth, then add the cilantro and blend until smooth. Any Sofrita not used will keep for a week in the fridge.
- Rinse rice through a fine-mesh strainer until water runs out clear.
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. When the oil is simmering, add chicken in one layer and brown for 7 to 10 minutes per batch, turning several times to evenly brown.
- While chicken browns, bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer until ready to use.
- Add sofrito, bay leaves and annatto or paprika to chicken and stir well. Reduce heat to medium, and sauté until liquid is mostly evaporated and sofrito thickens to a paste, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce and cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer, until the sauce darkens. Add rice, olives and capers, and fold together to ensure that the rice is fully coated and the chicken is evenly distributed. Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Pour in broth, then simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring only 2 to 3 times and shaking the pot every few minutes to keep rice level. (The liquid surrounding the rice will lower by about 1 inch.) Watch the rice very closely: The window between just right and overcooked is small, and difficult to predict.
- Once you start to spot lots of little bubbles on the surface but see no more pronounced liquid on top, top with the lid, reduce heat to low and cook until the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes more, shaking pot a few times. Once liquid is almost entirely evaporated, sprinkle thawed peas on top.
- Working directly in the pot, using 2 forks shred chicken thighs. Gently fluff the rice, bringing grains from the bottom to the top.
- Return the lid and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Garnish with lime wedges, and serve with salted avocado and tomato slices (or a simple green salad). The dish makes 5 – 8 servings and keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.