Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo, Pollo con Arroz...tomato, tomahto. It's a classic Latin dish meaning 'rice with chicken'. I made it for supper tonight and shared a picture of it. Within a few hours I've had numerous people (via facebook and e-mail) asking for the recipe. Admittedly, I sighed. I'm one of those annoying, budding chefs who doesn't really measure or do the exact same thing twice. While I love it when people take interest in my food, giving you a recipe isn't always easy. Never-the-less, I love you all and have really thought through what I was doing tonight. Yes, I have a recipe! I do things a little differently than that of the traditional dish. I like having more control over what the chicken tastes like separately from the rice/veg, so I chose to cook mine separately. There are a few differences in what spices I used as well.

Elle's Arroz con Pollo (serves 4)

1 medium onion, diced small
1 poblano pepper, roughly chopped
8 fresh, plum or campari tomatoes, diced large
1 can original Ro*tel
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (if you like it hotter, add more)
1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 C. chicken broth, low sodium is best
2 C. long grain white rice
1/4 C. fresh chopped cilantro

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts or 8 tenders, thawed and trimmed as necessary
2 to 3 Tbsp Tabasco
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
The juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Fresh lime wedges
Warm flour or corn tortillas
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Vegetable or Canola oil for cooking

Marinate the chicken about 2 hours in advance by combining all liquid ingredients with the spices and pour over the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

In a medium stock pot or dutch oven*, heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil on medium-high heat. Sweat the diced onion until translucent. Then, add the poblano peppers. Cook until tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Next, add the fresh tomatoes. Cook until the vegetables start to look saucy, stirring frequently.When the tomatoes start to give off their juices and form a sauce with the other vegetables, add the Ro*tel, all of the spices, and about half of the chopped cilantro. Stir to combine well and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. At this point, you should check for seasoning. Add salt, pepper, or more cayenne/red pepper if you'd like. Next, stir in the rice. Coat the rice well with the vegetable mixture. Then, add the chicken broth. You will need to bring this entire mixture to a low boil. When it's reached a low boil, turn the heat down to medium/medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. While the rice is simmering, grill or saute the marinated chicken. Combine the chicken and rice when both are done, or serve separately. Fresh lime wedges, a sprinkle of cilantro, and warm tortillas are good accompaniments.

I grilled the chicken. I like the way it looks and prefer the char-grilled flavor for this time of year. Once both chicken and rice were done, I stacked the chicken on top of the rice and sprinkled the remaining cilantro over the dish. I served the rice in a bowl with 2 chicken tenders on top, along with warm corn tortillas on the side.

*I used a well-seasoned, cast-iron dutch oven. I know not everyone has one of these and that's just fine. A medium sized, heavy-weight stock pot will do nicely.

A few final things:
~I strayed from the traditional recipe in several ways, but I'm still confident that this is damn tasty and it's close enough to still be considered a classic Arroz con Pollo dish. I didn't use saffron, because I wanted a zestier flavor and I knew the heavier spices would completely over power the scent and flavor of saffron.
~There are a lot of ingredients and you can really tame down the spice list if you'd like. Just be sure to taste the dish along the way. Seasoning each layer is very important. Use a light hand when seasoning during each step. You can always add more, but it's a lot more difficult to reduce the amount of seasoning.


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