Arroz con pollo means rice with chicken, but that simple name does not come close to explaining the wonder that is this one dish meal. Chicken, rice, and flavorful broth all slowly cooked together to make a hearty dish that is practically a homey, rustic take on paella.
There are a number of national and regional variations of this dish across the Caribbean and Central and South America, but the recipe here is essentially a simplified version of a Puerto Rican-style. The broth and chicken are scented and colored by achiote (also called annatto) paste: a paste of ground red, earthy seeds that is available in some better grocery stores, online, or at Latin markets.
I don’t claim this recipe is authentic, but it’s a decent simulacrum of versions I’ve had on and off the island of Puerto Rico and it’s made with easily accessible ingrediants.
Arroz con PolloCuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin, AmericanDifficulty: Medium
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 cup long grain or jasmine rice
½ bunch cilantro
1 red bell pepper
1 Serrano chili
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
4 Roma tomatoes
1 cup sliced green olives (opt)
1 tsp achiote paste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
- Peel, trim, and dice the onion.
- Core, seed, and dice the red bell pepper.
- Remove the stem from the Serrano chili, and cut into a fine mince.
- Separate the stems from the cilantro leaves.
- Seed and finely dice the tomatoes. Finely chop ½ of the leaves and all the stems.
- Peel, and mince or microplane the garlic.
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Season the chicken well on both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Sear the chicken skin-side down, cooking until the skin is browned and much of the fat has rendered out.
- Remove chicken and set aside. Drain and reserve all but 1 tbsp of the chicken fat.
- Add ½ of the achiote paste, stirring well to combine and color the fat.
- Add the rice to the fat mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove the rice from the pan and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp chicken fat to the pan over medium heat.
- Add the remaining achiote paste and sauté until well mixed with the fat. Add bell pepper, chili, onions, tomatoes, and chopped cilantro to the pan.
- Cook until the tomatoes have broken down and are beginning to darken.
- In the pan, add chicken stock, arrange chicken pieces, and return to a simmer. Before moving to the oven.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and cook uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chicken is nearly falling off the bone.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove the chicken from the broth and set aside.
- Add rice to the simmering stock remaining in the pan (add additional stock if less than 2 times the amount of rice) and stir well to combine.
- Arrange the chicken atop the simmering rice mixture and return to the oven.
- Cook 20 minutes, or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Garnish with remaining cilantro leaves.