Pollo con Arroz
Yes I know. The original dish is called arroz con pollo. But then most people translate that to “chicken with rice” which is pollo con arroz. So that’s what I’m calling my version.
I love this dish for a lot of reasons: 1) It is pretty economical and makes a huge pot of food. 2) It warms my soul. 3) It only requires one pot so cleanup is super easy. I think that one pot should be a large cast iron skillet like this one. I must say, for its cost, I think a good cast iron skillet is one of the best kitchen investments you can make. I use mine two or three times a week without fail.
1) If you start with a whole chicken, cut it into breasts and thighs. Season chicken well by rubbing it with salt, pepper, and paprika. A pinch of seasoned salt is really good on it also.
2) Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and once hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
3) When oil is glistening, add chicken, skin-side down. Brown chicken for 5-6 minutes per side.
4) Remove chicken from pan once browned. Now, add your onions and peppers to the pot. These will brown pretty quickly. They just need to cook for a few minutes. Stir regularly to make sure they don’t burn.
5) Add rice and stir to coat rice in oil. Cook for 30 seconds only.
6) Nestle the browned chicken pieces into the rice. Add three cups stock or water and cover with a lid or plate (or foil).
7) Turn heat down to medium on the pan and let it cook for 20 minutes. The dish is done when the rice is fluffy, the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through.
Let’s talk about all of these options. The green pepper and seasoned salt are things that I put in mine, but are not in a traditional chicken and rice recipe. The lemon and parsley are in the traditional dish and they really freshen up the dish at the end so I used both. So that leaves the saffron which is a tricky ingredient because it is pretty pricey. Granted a container of it will last you a long time, but I would recommend trying the dish without it unless you happen to have some sitting around.
If you find yourself saying, “Wow. This dish is really nice, but it sure is missing a certain saffroniness.” Then by all means you can go buy some and use it the next time.
So you will note that I purchased a whole chicken here. This is really the only way I buy chicken on a regular basis. It is fairly easy to chop one up and I use all of the parts including the leftovers to make my own chicken stock. I’m working on a lengthy post regarding this.
But back to the recipe! Take your chicken and spice it up really good. I used a combination of paprika, salt, and seasoned salt and basically covered my chicken in spice.
This next step is the reason why a cast iron skillet is helpful for this meal. Because you can get it super-hot. I put mine on medium-high and let it just heat up with a few tablespoons of olive oil until the oil starts to glisten and almost smoke.
Then I added all of my chicken – skin side down. The key to browning chicken, or anything really, is to not fuss with it. Just leave it for 5-6 minutes. Then turn it and you will see:
Once your chicken cooks for 5 more minutes, remove it from the pan. Note that you now have medium rare chicken which is not something you will want to bite into. We will finish cooking it with the rice in a bit.
Now in that same pot, add your onions and peppers if you are using them. These will brown pretty quickly. They just need to cook for a few minutes. While they are cooking be sure to stir pretty regularly and get up all of those bits of brown chicken. Those are flavor!
Now even though there is no liquid in this pot except oil, throw in your rice. You want all of those rice kernels coated with oil and chicken flavor. Stir it up, but don’t worry. The rice will not burn unless you go watch South Park or something.
After the rice is coated with oil and hot, take your chicken pieces from your plate and nuzzle them into the rice. Yes. I said nuzzle. Then add in all of your stock or water. About three cups should do it if you have a good lid. I actually don’t have a lid for my cast iron (I use a big plate) so I used a bit more than three cups because some of it will escape. I probably used 3.5 cups.
After you add the stock, stir the rice just a bit to make sure the stock is all around and not just at the top. You don’t want a layer of rice at the bottom under a piece of chicken because no stock will get to it and it will just burn.
Ok. Now cover to the best of your ability. If you have no lid or plate large enough, you can use foil. Just be careful not to burn yourself. NOW you can go watch that episode of South Park. I would check on it after 20 minutes, but you want to cook it until the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through. If you aren’t sure if your chicken is done, check it with a thermometer and make sure it reads 155 – 160 degrees in the thigh.
You will uncover this:
This is one of my favorite one pot meals and is so great for a cool Fall night. You can easily feed four with it or two with plenty of leftovers