I was actually inspired to make Arroz con Pollo after watching an Ingrid Hoffman episode where she sashayed her way through the traditional Latin dish in record time. Instead of using her recipe, which unfortunately had a few less than stellar reviews as well as ingredients that seemed a little out of place to me, (including ketchup and green beans) I opted to try the Cooks Illustrated version of the dish.
It took forever to make. From the time I started chopping to the time that I served dinner I “slaved” over the stove for more than 2 hours. I was so excited to try this savory cilantro and pepper flavored chicken and rice, but by the time it was actually plated I was practically falling asleep at the table. Not to mention that I munched on plump cocktail olives intermittently the whole time I was prepping and totally ruined my appetite. I’m an olive addict. It’s humanly impossible for me to eat just one.
My dilemma now is that I can’t eat the leftovers. There’s a gigantic Chefmate Dutch Oven full of Arroz con Pollo in my refrigerator and every time I think about it I feel queasy. Thankfully Chris thinks it’s great and has been kind enough to eat a bowl for dinner the last few evenings. Does this ever happen to you? I remember when I first started cooking sometimes if I had to handle poultry too much I’d get freaked out and not be able to eat whatever I made. I suppose this is some weird residual food anxiety on my part so please don’t let my ridiculous taste buds color your judgment. I did thoroughly enjoy an entire bowl of the dish initially (especially those delightful olives).
I made two slight alterations to the recipe below. For color purposes I added a whole diced red pepper in addition to the green pepper, and I also used olives stuffed with pimentos instead of separate amounts of olives and pimentos.
Arroz con Pollo (Originally Published in the September 2006 Edition of Cooks Illustrated Magazine)
6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar plus 2 additional teaspoons
Ground black pepper
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), trimmed of excess skin and fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup water
3 cups medium-grain rice
1/2 cup green olives (manzanilla), pitted and halved
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup jarred pimentos, cut into 1/4 by 2-inch strips
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl; using rubber spatula, mix to make smooth paste. Add oregano, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to garlic-salt mixture; stir to combine. Place chicken in bowl with marinade. Coat chicken pieces evenly with marinade; set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, green pepper, and pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 8 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro; stir to combine. Push vegetables to sides of pot and increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to clearing in center of pot, skin side down, in even layer. Cook, without moving chicken, until outer layer of meat becomes opaque, 2 to 4 minutes. (If chicken begins to brown, reduce heat to medium). Using tongs, flip chicken and cook on second side until opaque, 2 to 4 minutes more. Add tomato sauce, broth, and water; stir to combine. Bring to simmer; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add rice, olives, capers, and 3/4 teaspoon salt; stir well. Bring to simmer, cover, and place pot in oven. After 10 minutes, remove pot from oven and stir chicken and rice once from bottom up. Return pot to oven. After another 10 minutes, stir once more, adding 1/4 cup water if rice appears dry and bottom of pot is beginning to burn. Cover and return pot to oven; cook until rice has absorbed all liquid and is tender but still holds its shape and temperature of chicken registers 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes longer.
Using tongs, remove chicken from pot; replace lid and set pot aside. Remove and discard chicken skin; using 2 spoons, pull meat off bones into large chunks. Using fingers, remove remaining fat or dark veins from chicken pieces. Place chicken in large bowl and toss with remaining tablespoon olive oil, remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro, and pimentos; season with salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken on top of rice, cover, and let stand until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve, passing lemon wedges separately.