Families typically go through an assortment of dietary phases over the years. Food fads come and go … there are new and different bandwagons to hop onto … someone decides to try a new ‘diet’ …
Our family was no exception. There was a time when it was decided (no recollection of who was the ‘decider’) that we would become vegetarian. As long as there would be peanut butter, pancakes, and potatoes, the children were happy. And because husband Art knew that apple pie contained no meat, he also gave it the thumbs up. So, the transition was made, and I started to adapt many of our favourite recipes into ‘meatless’ versions.
At this time, son Steve, an avid fan of Sesame Street, was developing his facility with the Spanish language. One day, he quietly surmised, “I guess this means that we will just be having ‘Arroz’ from now on.” Yeah, pretty much ….and it will be served along with the toasted ‘_LT’ sandwiches!
Needless to say, our foray into vegetarianism lasted about as long as most fads and we eventually returned the ‘Pollo’ to its rightful place.
Arroz Con Pollo, or ‘Chicken with Rice’ is a traditional dish of Spain and Latin America that we, in North America, have adopted as one of our own comfort foods. As with any traditional dish, there are countless variations. But, if you are speaking with someone who is passionate about Arroz Con Pollo, there is only one authentic recipe!
On a recent trip to Spain, I had the opportunity to replenish my supplies of paprika and saffron. As I conversed with the local grocer, I learned that combining both the sweet and the smoked hot paprika in Spanish cooking would provide the most authentic results (according to him!)
This all-in-one dish is a quick and simple recipe for any day of the week.
Variation: Fresh or frozen corn could replace the peas
Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes
Number of Servings: 4
1 tablespoons (15 mL) olive oil
1 pound (450 g) skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
Smoked Spanish paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium dice
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
¾ cup (185 mL) long grain brown or white rice
1 can (796 mL/28 fl oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ cups (375 mL) chicken broth
1 small can (127 mL) chopped mild chili peppers
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5 mL) sweet paprika
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked hot paprika
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon (1.5 mL) saffron threads
1 ½ cups (375 mL) fresh or frozen peas
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat broiler and position an oven rack 6-8 inches from the element. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Coat the chicken thighs with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle on some paprika, salt and pepper. Place seasoned chicken thighs on a rack that has been lightly oiled, or place chicken thighs directly on the covered baking sheet.
- Broil until chicken browns lightly on top (5 minutes); flip to the other side and continue to broil for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside as you prepare the rice.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan or Dutch oven. Saute onion until soft and fragrant – 5 or 6 minutes. Add the garlic and the rice to the pan, and slowly sauté until very lightly toasted. Be careful not to burn rice.
- Add tomatoes, broth, chili peppers, oregano and paprika. Slowly bring the mixture to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add broiled chicken thighs, and any accumulated juices, to the pan. Cover, and continue to cook (on the stove or in a 3250F oven) for 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the broth and the chicken is fully cooked. Stir occasionally.
- Steep the saffron in a little hot water (5 minutes), and add to the chicken-rice mixture. Stir in peas and cilantro.
- Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until heated through.
- Adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or paprika if necessary.