Monday, September 20, 2010

Arroz con Pollo

I always associate one pot meals with ease, delicious flavors, and comfort food. Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) is one of those one pot wonders that make the whole house smell fantastic, but that is easy to make and even easier to clean up after. The other benefit, is that all those rich flavors stay in one pot, so they meld together beautifully. Oddly, the star of this dish is the rice. It comes first in the name, after all. The rice cooks up in chicken broth, white wine, and all of the delicious spices so that it is plump and decadent. Also, similar to paella, you get some light caramelization on the bottom where the rice gets brown and crunchy. Yuuuum. This is exactly the traditional way of making this dish, but I like it this way, so that's that. This dish also comes together fairly quickly, so unlike other one pot meals that cook all day on the stove, this one comes together in under an hour. I love it for a lazy Sunday dinner so that I can have it for a hectic Monday lunch.
Arroz con Pollo
4 chicken thighs
1 red pepper
1 medium yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups chicken stock (not to be a pain, but you really should get low sodium broth because then you can determine the amount of salt you need)
1/2 cup white wine (I used savingon blanc because I always have it around)
1 tsp. paprika
a dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
olive oil
a few threads of saffron

1. Wash the chicken thighs and pat them dry. Sprinkle them liberally with salt, pepper, paprika, and a dash of cayenne powder on both sides.
2. Heat 2 Tablespoons or so of olive oil in a wide, heavy bottom pan or dutch oven. Over medium high heat, sear chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until browned. Remove the chicken (it is still raw inside) and put it on a plate for later.
3. Slice red pepper, onion, and garlic roughly, turn down the heat to medium, and add the vegetables to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomato paste to the pan and let cook for a few minutes. I don't know why, but this makes the tomato paste taste better, so I do it.
5. Add the rice and let it coat in the oil and cook for a few minutes.
6. Add the white wine and stock. Scrape up all the caramelized flavors from the bottom of the pan when you add the liquid. This is the good stuff.
7. If you are using saffron threads, which are very expensive, you can set them in about a Tablespoon of warm water. Let them sit for about a minute and toss into the pan.
If you don't have saffron, that's ok. The earthy, musky flavor won't be there, but you will still get a lot of great flavor in the dish anyway.
8. Cover your pan and allow to cook on the lowest heat for 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through. You shouldn't open the lid or stir the pot during this time. I have to leave the kitchen so I'm not tempted.
9. Once the dish is ready, open the lid and admire your handiwork.
10. I served it with a sprinkle of cilantro and some queso fresco (because I am obsessed with both), but it really doesn't need it.
What did I tell you about the crispy rice on the bottom? Heavenly!