March 20, 2008

Arroz con pollo

Filed under: chicken,recipes,rice — Jose @ 1:33 am

As a young, growing, laddy I would eat copious amounts of anything, save for a few items. One of these was arroz con pollo (acp), especially “a la Chorrera”, which translates into “sweaty-sweet festering rice fermentation” (Don’t try to to look that up, it’s Cuban regional speak).

As I got older, and as has happened with so many other foods I did not care for as a boy, I really grew to appreciate acp and all it’s variations. This includes “a la chorrera” even though I still prefer “seco” which is this post’s focus.

My lovely mother in law helped me with this dish. She is a rare bird in that her cooking prowess is matched by her patience and tolerance with others in the kitchen (yes, that would be me). This makes learning easy, as long as you don’t ask for precise measurements.

yes, that is a paper plate

We used boneless, skinless thighs and breasts which made for a bit less chicken oomph, but why pick through bones when a highly trained poultry worker at a sanitary facility has already done this for you? Also, I don’t need to tell you that you should be spending the extra dollar per pound and buying organic birds and bird parts, right?

It’s goin down:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 minced garlic clove
1 lime’s juice
2 tsp salt

Place a cup of water and the remaining ingredients except for the chicken in a double-bagged gallon size zip top bag. Add the rinsed chicken (always rinse meats before using) to bag, toss it up a bit with a spoon and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Marinate / brine for no longer than 3 or 4 hours but at least 2, turning and rearranging a couple of times. Don’t be afraid to throw in some macerated fresh herbs like oregano or thyme or even an un-macerated rosemary sprig??

The meez:

1 large chopped green/red/yellow/orange sweet pepper
1 large chopped yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 fat pinch of saffron (think dip, not leaf)
2 medium size bay leaves
1/2 cup Virgin olive oil
1/2 can tomato paste (small can)
1 cup chicken broth
2 1/2 cups Valencia or Arborio or some sort of risotto rice
3 1/2 cups water
1 bottle beer, imported–of course, try Lowenbrau

After the chicken has soaked long enough, take it out and dry it on and off with some paper towels. To your dutch oven that has been gathering momentum for the past 5 minutes over medium high heat, add 1/4c of the oil. Once the oil starts a-shimmerin and a-smellin, place as many chicken parts in there you can without crowding. You are trying to give the chicken some nice brown crust, so as much of it should be in contact with the pan. Brown on the other side and place browned chicken in a dish covered with foil (loosely). Repeat with remaining chicken.

img_4466-1.JPG

Add the other 1/4c of oil and when ready, add the chopped onion and pepper, reducing the heat to medium now. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping up the browned chicken bits off the pan.img_4471-1.JPG

Add the minced garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes until all these veggies are nice and soft and and quite silky in their extra helping of oil (it’ll come in handy for the rice). Add the oregano, the bay leaves and the saffron and stir some more, until the saffron fragrance tapers (1-2 min). Now add the tomato paste that you mixed with a 1/2 cup of water and cook this SERIOUS sofrito down for a few minutes so as to be more pasty than watery.

img_4479.JPG

Throw in the chicken and it’s juices collected in the plate, making sure to toss all this together to coat the chicken in the sofri. This goes on for another 3-4 minutes. Now, add the 2.5c of rice and toss that with the chicken and sofri for a few minutes. Finally, add the 1 cup of chicken broth and 3.5c of water (ok, 4.5c if you want it sloppy), mix and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to as low as possible on your range. I use a “lumisnake” because my stove’s LOW just can go that low. Now kick back for the next 20-30 minutes and get your beer. I mean, you can go ahead and pound a couple, but save one for the rice!

Your rice is cooked now and there is still some liquid in the pot amongst the rice. This is good, yes. Crack yer beer and pour that bad boy in there and don’t be all slow or careful about it either, it’s not champagne for chrissakes. Look at that sucker foam up! img_4516-1.JPGNow cover immediately and turn off the stove. Wait at least 10 minutes before serving. How about a crisp romaine salad with a lime vinaigrette?


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15 Comments »

  1. Jose,

    BEAUTIFUL! I can almost taste it!! And yes, the beer at the end adds to the perfection. Great post.

    Marta

    Comment by Marta — March 20, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  2. Jose,

    Looks delicioso! Arroz con pollo is one of my all-time favorites. I always make it for Christmas dinner.

    Milita

    Comment by Amy — March 20, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  3. Oye chico looks great, but is it okay if I use “bijol” instead of saffron. And if I can reduce the liquid because for 2 1/2 cups of rice with the whole can of chicken broth (which is probably like 2 cups of liquid) and the 4-5 cups water plus the 8- 12 oz of beer to the rice might make this “a la Chorrera” which Im not fond of lol.

    I don’t want it to “asopao”

    Comment by Nathan — July 31, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  4. Nathan:
    1) You could use bijol, but you’d get no flavor from it, only color..
    2) Good point about the asopa’dness of the dish. A couple of friends have made this and commented that it was on the liquid side. I’ve made an adjustment in the recipe: 3.5 cups of water instead of 5. Add the 1 cup of chicken broth (4.5 cups total liquid) and you get a nice rice/liquid ratio of 1:1.8 The beer at the end doesn’t really count :)

    Comment by Jose — July 31, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  5. To me Bijol has a slightly nutty flavor because of the “achiote” (Saffron is kinda expensive, but yeah I would much rather use saffron)

    And thanks I didn’t expect such a quick response :) I am going to make this “Arroz Con Pollo” soon I have EVERYTHING in the pantry.

    I really like your blog, I look forward to seeing more added to it, the cooking is wonderful, it’s authentic even if some of the stuff isn’t exactly how my family makes it sometimes, but it is damn close and of course Cuban cooking varies from household to household but there are always thos e awesome staple ingredients in everything.

    Im gonna add you to my “blog list” on my blog. t might get you more deserved traffic Thanks and keep up the good work.

    Comment by Nathan — July 31, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

  6. Hey it’s me again so I am finally gonna make your “Arroz Con Pollo” tomorrow I have everything only difference is Im using “Bijol” in place of saffron, gonna use only “chicken thighs” and “drumsticks” bone in for flavor, and Im gonna have to add ground “cumin” maybe no “oregano” if I do very little.

    Eh so I guess it won’t be identical but your my guideline.

    Comment by Nathan — August 15, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

  7. Damn dude your technique for “Arroz Con Pollo” is freaken AWESOME I LOVE IT, I used your recipe as my guideline did it almost identical and the “Arroz Con Pollo” came out PERFECT especially after adjusting the liquid mixture to what you told me, it was only slightly asopado but PERFECT just PERFECT not to moist, not to dry for my taste so good.

    THANKS LOTS, I only did minor tweaks like I said, but non the less it’s some of the best arroz con pollo I have EVER HAD!
    :D

    Comment by Nathan — August 16, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

  8. Oh yeah I blogged about it if it’s okay with you all credit given where deserved

    Comment by Nathan — August 17, 2008 @ 12:03 am

  9. My mother makes this using Edmundo cooking wine, but I am not sure where it is put in. Do you know if it would replace the beer or would it be part of the initial chicken browning process? Thanks

    Comment by Ali — July 8, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

  10. Edmundo! My mother used to use the stuff too… Note that Edmundo makes “vino seco” and “vino tinto”. In reality they approximate dry sherry (it’s also called Jerez) and regular red wine which I use all the time to cook. In this case, you could add the vino seco to the sofrito along with the tomato paste. Still, you would add the beer at the end. Good luck!

    Comment by Jose — July 8, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

  11. hi, love your recipe and pics. i would love to know what would be the recipe for the “a la chorrera” i do need it “asopao” please advise since i am going to cook it for new years eve dinner and i want it to be the bomb! and do include pics because they are very productive…thanks

    Comment by carmen — December 30, 2009 @ 7:14 am

  12. I cooked this yesterday. While i enjoyed the recipe i really hope you would rewrite it to make it easier. Its incomplete and it really makes it hard to make the recipe like you intended it to be made if people have to “guess”.

    1) 1 can chicken broth –but then in the instructions there isn’t a place were you say to add the chicken broth. I had to search the comments after i printed the recipe to find the 3.5 cup / 1 cup ratio. I modified it slightly so i could use a whole can of chicken broth but otherwise it was the same.

    2) Rice – in the ingredient section you list 2.5 cups of rice but in your instructions you say 2 cups. I leave the reader to guessing which is correct. I used 2.5

    Comment by Brent — January 4, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  13. Hi Brent, thanks for the comments, I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. I went ahead and updated the recipe to clarify the 2 points you brought up.

    Comment by Jose — January 4, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

  14. your recipe says
    1 large chopped green/red/yellow/orange sweet pepper
    is that 1 large of each color?
    i just see in the pics when u first start the sofri the different colors…so thought i’d ask – maybe I’m over thinking it.

    Comment by sandy — June 21, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  15. This is the closest recipe to my grandmother’s I have yet read. She happened to make the best arroz con pollo I have ever come across. Thanks for posting this recipe. I was not sure of the measurements for the spices used. It sounds about right especially the parts of chicken used, the type of rice and definitely the beer at the end. Thanks again!

    Comment by Christine — November 4, 2011 @ 10:55 am

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