Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)

Food is decorated with pimentos and petit pois

My Mom makes the best Arroz con Pollo in the world. I’ve heard this all my life from anyone that has ever tasted it.  I must tell you she can make this ANYWHERE; in the oven, on the stove, or in the barbeque.

Mom, everyone calls her Mom, does not follow a written recipe and I have been trying to document it for at least a year.  Every time she has made it I have only captured bits and pieces, she just does it and forgets that I want to learn or write it down.  I was finally triumphant and finished getting it all with good estimates of the amounts of ingredients.  I made a batch myself and it worked.

Using the right rice is critical, Valencia Rice, without it you won’t have the same taste or texture. Using chicken with bones is critical too.  If you use boneless chicken the Arroz con Pollo will be tasteless and flat.  Also, make sure you use a good beer with flavor, like a lager, none of that watered down stuff.

Arroz con Pollo is not a cook-ahead meal but you can prepare most of it to the point right before you add the rice. Once you add the rice the guests should be there and ready to eat in about 45 minutes.  It is best to prepare all the ingredients before you start since there is not much lag time between steps.

When cooking the rice, do not mix it all the time, it will ruin the rice.  The consistency of the rice is dependent on the chef.  It is not supposed to have individual grains of separated rice and it is not supposed to be super mushy like risotto, or even really soupy but it is supposed to be “wet”.   This is called “a la chorerra” chorrear means to flow.  You want for the rice to flow off the serving spoon but you don’t want a soup ladle to serve it.  As noted in the recipe, you can add more liquid if it is too dry and bake another 10 minutes.  If it is too wet, it is harder to fix, the rice can get too soft but cook a little longer and it should be all right, it will still taste good.

Arroz con Pollo
This is a one pot meal but you have to have a pretty big pot.
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • Salt for chicken
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole head of garlic (peeled and crushed
  • ¾ of a large green pepper (small pieces)
  • 3 small onions (small pieces)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of petits pois (sweet peas)
  • 1 small jar of red pimentos
  • Powdered yellow food coloring 
  • 1-3 beers at room temperature (if the beer is added cold, it can stunt the cooking of the rice.  I can turn out more al dente and never quite cook through.)
  • 1 small bag of Valencia rice
  • 2 handfuls of salt (see picture) equivalent to 2 teaspoons 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375
1.  Cut the chicken into quarter pieces, all about the same size for even cooking. The breast can be cut in ¼ so that the size is about the size of the thigh.
2.  Remove excess fat
3.  Rinse the chicken and dry with a paper towel
4.  Season the chicken with salt
5.  Heat the large pot
6.  Add the ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
7.  Add the chicken pieces and sauté for about 5 minutes to brown it
8.  Add all the squished garlic

Mash/Squish the Garlic

9.  Cook another 3-5 minutes
10. Remove the chicken from the pot and place in another container
11. Add green peppers to the pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes
12. Add the onions and sauté 2-3 additional minutes

Saute all the veggies (sofrito)

13. Put the chicken and any juices back in the pot
14. Add the small can of tomato sauce
15. Add all the liquid from the petits pois
16. Add ½ the liquid from the pimentos
17. Add the 4 cups of chicken stock
18. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt

This is how the pot looks with most of the liquid added.

Estimate of the amount of salt to add

Up to this point, you can do all the steps above ahead of time
If done ahead of time, remember to bring the oven up to temperature and heat the pot before you add the rice to the pot.

19. Put the rice in a bowl and rinse twice with water (discarding the water)

This is what the Valencia rice looks like (little pearls)

20. Add the yellow food coloring to the rice until bright yellow

Note the bright yellow color of the Bijol

21. Add the rice to the pot
22. Simmer the rice in the liquids for about 5 minutes
23. Add the 1 room temperature beer to the rice

Adding the beer

24. Bring to a boil and cook another 5 minutes
25. Cover and immediately place in the hot oven
26. Let it bake for 25 minutes, no peeking until the 25 minutes are up
27. Uncover and stir slowly
28. Taste the rice to make sure it is almost done (al dente, not hard but still has a little bite) and check for salt, you can add more salt at this point if needed.

Check to make sure the rice is ready

29. Add another ½ beer
30. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes
31. If the rice is not cooked enough, just add the rest of the ½ beer or ½ cup of water or broth and cook another 10 minutes
32. If you have ½ beer left, put it in the fridge and drink later, if you need to add more liquid, you can use more beer, chicken broth, or water
33. Take the pot out of the oven serve in the pot used for cooking and garnish with the petits pois and the sliced pimentos

When serving this dish beer or sangria are the better choices (I vote for beer). A side salad of watercress or avocado goes perfectly. Fried ripe or green plantains are a good side dish. Yes, lots of Cuban dishes are fried; croquetas, yucca frita, bistek palomilla, pollo frito, etc. etc. etc. YUM!

Don’t let all the steps keep you from trying to make this,  if you look at the steps, the majority is adding ingredients.

Hope you enjoy making this dish and sharing it with your friends and family, it’s a great meal for a party.

Until next time,

Muá, Muá!
Tía Ruth

tiaRuth@Havana-Spice.com

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3 Responses to Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)

  1. roger says:

    Your best post ever, great recipe, photos and instructions.
    Glad I found your blog through IFBC.

  2. Jessica Espina-Orta says:

    I was afarid of making this dish because it seemed complicated, but I was so wrong I made this dish less than hour. It taste amazing i used only 1 beer. My family loved it from now on this is expected from me don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing lol

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