Thursday, 14 July 2011

Recipe: Cuban Arroz con Pollo -Cuban Chicken with Rice


Cuban Arroz con Pollo - Cuban Chicken with Rice

Arroz con Pollo is one of the most popular Latin American dishes. It's a derivation of Paella, the traditional Spanish dish, it has a lot of the same ingredients: safron, white whine, chicken, red bell pepper and peas. Arroz con pollo recipe can require annato seeds and oil to give it that vibrant yellow color but it's entirely optional. I have cooked Arroz Con Pollo without Annato seeds and still comes out delicious. I cook the rice with a bit of beer instead of water and it gives a nice Cuban touch. This recipe serves about 4-6 people.


For Chicken:
1 large chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces.
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Sofrito and broth:
2 olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
3 cups water (*)
1 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups beer*
1/2 tsp annatto seeds, or 1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/4 -1 cup of Raisins to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

-Wash the chicken and blot dry with paper towels. Mix the oregano, cumin, white pepper and vinegar in a large glass bowl. Add the chicken, turning the pieces to cover with the mixture. Let marinate at least 15 minutes to 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a large heatproof casserole. Brown the chicken pieces all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.

For sofrito:

 Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the oil in the casserole, cook over medium heat heat until soft but do not brown, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for one more minute. Return the chicken to the casserole with the sofrito and cook for about 1 or 2 more minutes.


Add the water, wine and beer(*), saffron (if you use it instead of annatto oil), tomato paste and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, place annato seeds in small saucepan with 1/4 cup of the chicken cooking liquid. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain mixture back into the chicken. Thoroughly wash rice swishing with your hands, and drain off the water. Continue doing this until water runs clear.

Bring chicken mixture to a boil, stir in the washed rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. If it starts to dry out and rice is still al dente, add more liquid. If it gets too soupy, uncover during the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking. Just before it is done, stir in half of the peas (petit pois),raisins and pimientos. Garnish with Red Peppers. I usually roast mine first to give it a smoky taste.

Nota Bene: Making it with Beer is a nice Cuban Touch and gives it a nice tangy flavor. I adjust the quantity to the total needed for cooking.

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