Arroz con Pollo

Over the past year or so, I’ve learned that my favorite foods are the so-called “peasant” or “country” varieties: simple risottos, stews, braises, cheap cuts of meat, long-cooked vegetables thrown in a pot. It doesn’t matter where these dishes originate from, if a recipe says it’s a favorite of “the people,” “the farmers,” or “the lower-class,” I’m down.

Not to toot my own horn (yeah, right) but I cook these dishes pretty damn well. I have no idea if my versions are totally “authentic” or sometimes if they even resemble the dishes they are titled after. I do know, though, that they are good.

Arroz con Pollo, what I would call a Spanish Risotto, has to be my favorite food to make for a group of people. I’ve served it at parties, to friends, to myself pretending I had enough stomach to polish off 8 servings. It’s always a hit. People rave. Jim declared it my “signature dish.” I’m getting a big head.

You can find a few recipes for Arroz con Pollo on the internet but a lot of them are conventional recipes—they give you the ingredients and a step-by-step but they lack a certain style. Like, you could follow the recipe and get tasty results but they don’t tell you to let the rice burn a bit on the bottom of the pan and then to scrape it up and into the body of the rice before serving. They don’t mention that you should add in the rest of the beer that’s left in the 40 oz after you’ve drank just enough to start a kitchen-salsa (you could also substitute a regular bottle here.) And, for whatever prudish reason, no one mentioned that you have to taste, continuously, seasoning with pimento in between tastes, until you find the perfect flavor.

These are the little details that make this type of food so delicious. A dash here, a little dancing there, a few kisses blown into the pot. Most recipes don’t tell you how much love is needed. But, I swear, you cannot omit it.

Arroz con Pollo

serves 6-8

Sometimes I’m in the mood for chicken-with-the-skin-and-bones for this dish, sometimes I just want the easily shreddable skinless-boneless. If you are going that route, use chicken thighs. Dark meat is best here (or anywhere else for that matter.)

1 (3-pound) whole chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons spanish smoked pimento
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2-3/4 pound dried hot chorizo sausages, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large Spanish onion (or two small), chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 bay leaves
2 cups long grain white rice
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warm
1 bottle pale beer (I like Bass here, but you could use any light-tasting beer)
1 cup pimento stuffed green olives (optional)
Pimento, Salt, and Pepper to taste

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. In a small bowl, blend salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, pimento and cayenne. Rub each piece of chicken with the spices and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for the flavor to develop.

In a heavy, 6 qt casserole with lid, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Fry the chorizo over medium heat until it is crispy and renders its fat. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes Remove from pan and set aside. Saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, scraping up all the bottom scraps. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the rice in and stir until all the pieces are coated in the oil.

Add the tomatoes and broth, season with salt and pepper. Return the chorizo and chicken to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and season with pimento, salt, and pepper or anything else you like. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the beer. Stir to scrape up and browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cover again and cook until the chicken is done and the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid, about 10-20 minutes. If the rice isn’t done, add a little water or more beer if you like the taste. If you want extra of the browned bits (taste them first), bring up the heat for the last couple minutes of cooking. Let rest about 10 minutes before serving. Taste before serving and season if needed. Scatter the olives on top if you like. Leftovers are the best past; it will get spicier with each day. Serve it to your favorite people—people who you wouldn’t mind big, sloppy kisses from.

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18 thoughts on “Arroz con Pollo

  1. very cool that you have a signature dish. it’s not bragging, it’s just great to have something(s) you know you make just that well.

    I may have to try this. I have long been hesitant to try arroz con pollo recipes online because my husband will compare whatever I make to his grandmother’s… so I have a lot to live up to. πŸ˜‰

  2. this looks fantastic! And the addition of beer makes it extra special, especially when you start drinking the beer while cooking the meal πŸ™‚ hats off to the chef.

  3. Mmmm beer, sweet, sweet beer.

    So…you have found the oft missed “ingredient” called a socarrat? This is also essential when cooking paella. Your arroz con pollo looks like the beginning of a mean paella, by the way. I’d use it.

    So are you adding the beer just as an excuse to get another one?

  4. I love arroz con pollo as well. I use the recipe from The Good Home Cookbook. I actually never had it before I made it on my own so I’m not sure how authentic it tastes! But I like it!

  5. My mother makes a killer Arroz con Pollo. Although she gave me her recipe, I can never get it as good as hers. Must be the kisses. I should be more lovable with my pot πŸ˜‰

  6. i *love* arroz con pollo, but i’ve never tried to make it at home. it’s got rice, it’s got beans, it’s got chicken, it’s got beer – what’s not to love?

    my signature dish is also a ccomfort food – slow cooked, starchy, meaty…yum.

    this arroz is official tagged on my to-cook list.

  7. Hi Robin!

    Great essay! I also adore peasant food. And dancing in the kitchen.

    Of course you can brag if you have a signature dish. That’s the whole point of having a signature dish! Rock on with your bad self!

    Rose-Anne

  8. Jim says:

    Thanks to everybody for the warm comments — and to Robin for the wonderful life we now share. If you’ll allow to quibble, however, I can’t quite agree with the no-regrets sentiment often expressed in this thread. I think it’s hugely misguided to say that you don’t regret having done something because it made you who are today; it implies not only that your time couldn’t have been better spent, but that you couldn’t possibly be a better person. Of course, it’s only healthy to like yourself, but this takes it too far. Just because I learned a thing or two during the five years I spent of drugs doesn’t mean I couldn’t have learned a lot more doing something else — something that didn’t involve hurting a lot of people, including myself. Hell, I could have learned how to cook!

    — Jim

  9. Warda- Loving your pot is just a *must* πŸ˜‰

    Haha, Jim, you silly man.

    Michelle! I LOVE short ribs. And I think we have the same orange pot! Hehe.

    Barb- I love having this for a Sat night dinner because it makes great leftovers for a lazy Sunday lunch.

    Ann: Thank you! And, your stomach is trying to tell you something! Make Arroz con Pollo! πŸ˜€

  10. There are some interesting cut-off dates in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity however I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

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