Monday, March 3, 2008

arroz con pollo (cuban chicken with rice)

Arroz Con Pollo (Cuban Chicken with Rice)

I like my car. It's an SUV, really, but I refer to all passenger vehicles as "cars." It braved four South Bend winters and it dutifully performed on countless five-hour trips between Notre Dame and home, so when it was time to move to Seattle, I gladly forked over the money to have it transported to my new locale. (Because I sure as heck was not going to spend a whole week driving it out here.) What I do not like, however, is when my car shuts down in the middle of the busiest street in Bellevue, which is what it thought it might like to do last Friday. [DANA ND2, what are you doing?!?] Now, all things considered, this was a minor problem -- a firm press on the gas pedal turned the sputtering idle back into a pleasant hum -- but now I'm faced with the irritating task of explaining it all to a mechanic in a way that will actually yield a productive result. Thank goodness for technology, right? I can look up the problem online (oil pressure is low) and read all about the possible causes and remedies (worn bearings - replace them). So now when I go to the repair shop on Friday, I can tell the mechanic exactly what I would like him to investigate, rather than make a vague statement like, " car shuts off...sometimes...." Isn't that nice? I think so.

Enough about cars; on to chicken. In her review of this recipe, Deb recommends dialing up the spices because following Gourmet's instructions might leave you with a bit of a ho-hum one-pot meal. I followed some of her suggestions and threw in a few of my own, but still came away wanting more of a kick (in flavor, not heat factor). Therefore, the recipe you see below is how I'll make this dish next time. The chicken came out perfectly tender, so with a few adjustments to the spices, this will be a nice standby for a simple meal.

Arroz Con Pollo (Cuban Chicken with Rice)
Adapted from a recipe from Gourmet magazine, September 2007, via Deb at Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6-8

4 chicken breast halves (with bone, if possible), halved crosswise
4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Dried oregano, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured sausage), skin discarded and sausage cut into 1/4" slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons hot paprika, plus more to taste
2 Turkish bay leaves
1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 12-ounce bottle beer (not dark)
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups long-grain white rice
1/4 cup chopped green pepper or roasted red pepper strips for garnish

Remove and discard skin and excess fat from chicken. Place chicken in a 13" x 9" dish. Pour the vinegar over the chicken and then liberally season each piece with salt, pepper, and oregano. Sprinkle minced garlic over chicken and then cover and chill for 2 hours.

Cook chorizo in olive oil in a 6- to 7-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring, until some fat is rendered, 2-3 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, oregano, paprika, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add chicken with marinade to chorizo mixture and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 10 minutes.

Temporarily remove chicken from pot. Add tomatoes, beer, broth, and rice to the pot. Place chicken back on top of the mixture, keeping the rice submerged, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover mixture directly with a round of parchment or wax paper and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook, stirring once or twice, until rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Discard parchment paper and bay leaves and adjust seasoning with additional salt or paprika, if needed. Garnish with chopped green pepper or roasted red pepper strips and serve.


  1. I tried your recipe and I thought the chicken was great. Next time I would add more chorizo, as I didn't find it had much of an impact. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm glad to know that. When I made it, I had to substitute an Italian hot sausage because my local grocery didn't have any chorizo. The sausage itself was spicy (as one might expect!), but I didn't find that it imparted anything special to the rest of the dish.