Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Arroz con Pollo

Years ago I was given the most wonderful gift of cooking lessons from one of the greatest cooks I know – Sharon Garcia. You won’t find her on the Food Network or with her own book in Barnes and Noble, but you can find her sometimes in her kitchen making something that is not only delicious, but has been a staple of her family for more than a generation. A mixture of Cuban and Italian, Sharon, was born a wonderful cook and learned from the best in her family. The recipe below is my adaptation of hers with a few short cuts taken that may not make it completely authentic, but it was a winner with my dining audience.

Arroz con Pollo
Serves 6 large servings
1-1/2 to 2lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or thighs or a mixture for your preference)
1 red or sweet onion (chopped)
2 large bell peppers or 8-9 mini peppers (chopped)
28-30 oz can of diced tomatoes (drained, reserve juice)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
handful or parsley and/or cilantro (chopped)
1 TBSP paprika
1 packet of Sazon seasoning
juice of one lemon
12-15 oz can of petit peas
4-5 cups of chicken broth
2 boxes of your favorite Yellow Rice mix (I used Zatarans)
1 TBSP olive oil
cooking spray
salt and pepper
sliced Spanish olives (optional)

1.     Heat an oven-ready pot (I used a cast iron Dutch oven) over medium-high heat with the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the chicken (seasoned with salt and pepper) and brown on both sides. Set the chicken aside.
2.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3.     Coat the pan in cooking spray and add the onions, peppers and garlic along with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies until brown and soft then add the drained tomatoes and paprika. Cook for a couple minutes. Add in the herbs and Sazon packet. Cook for another minute.
4.     Add in the rice mixes and stir to coat the rice with the sofrito (the onions, peppers and tomatoes).
5.     Return the chicken to the pan. Add the lemon juice, tomato juice and chicken broth to make 4-5 cups of liquid.
6.     Stir everything in the pot, cover and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
7.     Check it at 20 minutes to see how much liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add half the can of peas and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary.
8.     Cook for another 15-20 minutes if needed.
9.     Take out of the oven, keep covered and let it rest for 10 minutes. Serve with olive slices and more chopped herbs if you like.

This also makes great leftovers for another dinner and/or lunches. We had a salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar on the side and lemon soda water.

Paul absolutely loved this and said to put it in regular rotation on my menu list. That alone made all the chopping and cooking worth it!

What’s your family’s favorite recipe?

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