Spanish for chicken with rice, arroz con pollo will be your new favorite one-pot meal. All of the flavor from the marinade and sofrito permeate the rice and chicken, creating an incredibly rich dish. Vegetables, starch and protein all in one pot. This dish is truly a wonder of multiculturalism, including ingredients that spread with Spanish explorers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Though popular throughout all of Latin America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Costa Rica have a special connection to this dish. Every country and every family has their own variation.
Puerto Rican arroz con pollo calls for a seasoning called sazón, culantro, green olives and annatto seed for color. Spanish arroz con pollo uses more tomatoes, Spanish wine and saffron for color. Caribbean arroz con pollo uses jerk spices and ingredients like beans or sweet potatoes. Most variations use a standard base for flavor called sofrito, which is a combination of blended onion, peppers, herbs and aromatics. I don’t have a secret family recipe for arroz con pollo, so my variation is a blend of cultures using standard techniques. I personally do not use jarred or packaged seasoning or sofrito. I prefer to make my own but feel free to substitute. I know there are some cilantro haters out there, but it really adds so much flavor to the sofrito. If you are not a fan, substitute with another herb like parsley.
First, I start by marinating the chicken thighs with red wine vinegar, brown sugar, oil, coriander, cumin, garlic and oregano for a few hours in the fridge. Next, I throw the sofrito ingredients into a blender. Simply brown the marinated chicken in oil, cook the sofrito down, adding a few ingredients along the way as the rice cooks in the saucy goodness. A covered pot or Dutch oven really does the work. Once covered, it simmers away on the stovetop without much babysitting. When it’s done, simply throw in some frozen peas and dinner is ready. It’s a very comforting dish that my whole family loves.
Arroz Con Pollo Recipe (Serves 4-6)
2 lbs. chicken thighs (I use boneless skinless)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups rinsed jasmine rice
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped green olives
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 ground dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 standard bundle of cilantro (stems included; I use nearly the whole bundle, save a little for garnish)
- Mix the marinade together in a large bowl. Add chicken. Toss and cover with wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Brown marinated chicken (shake off excess liquid) for 5 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Remove chicken, reserve on a plate.
- Add sofrito to the Dutch oven. Cook with paprika and reduce for 7 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add any remaining marinade.
- Add tomato sauce and cook for 3 minutes.
- Heat stock in another pan or microwave until very hot.
- Add the chicken, rice, additional salt and pepper and boiling stock to the Dutch oven. Bring heat to high while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Keep uncovered, stirring every so often for 15 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to keep any rice from sticking.
- Cover. Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 10 minutes undisturbed. Stir, test rice for doneness. If additional time is needed, add another splash of stock and cover for a few minutes. If done, add peas and olives.
- Serve with cilantro and hot sauce.