Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arroz con Pollo

I know what you are thinking.  The meal in the photograph looks just like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill chicken and rice dish.  However, do not be deceived by the simplicity of its appearance.  This meal packs a lot of flavor.  A LOT!  I first tried it a couple of weeks ago and have already made it three times since, which is a rarity in our household because we do not repeat meals very often.  The advantages of this recipe are threefold:

1)  It is absolutely delicious.  The salty olives, the juicy chicken, the tender rice, and the fresh cilantro combine to create one tasty party in your mouth.

2)  It is cheap.  Cheap, cheap, cheap.  All the ingredients are inexpensive and the recipe in its entirety will feed us for at least 3 meals.

3)  Matthew adores this dish.  He eats so much of it!  He has always been a lover of olives (we used to stick whole black olives on the ends of each of his fingers and then watch him eat them off one by one), so I think that is why he has such an affinity for this meal.

You do have to plan ahead a bit when making this because it requires about 90 minutes from start to finish. The best part is that this is a one-pot meal and everything else can be cleaned up while it bakes in the oven. Then you can sit down to dinner knowing that you do not have a huge mess waiting for you to clean once the meal is over!  Win-Win!

Arroz con Pollo
from Cook's Illustrated

6 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
Table salt
½ 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)
¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 ¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup water
3 cups medium-grain rice (see note above)
1 cup green olives (manzanilla), pitted and halved
¼ cup capers
½ cup jarred pimentos, cut into 1/4 by 2-inch strips

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. 


  1. Dear Monica,
    This looks delicious. I want to make it but the chicken skin/bone part freaks me out. Any suggestions for a substitute? Would chicken breast work?

  2. Hey Dport! Because of the longer cooking time, I think boneless/skinless chicken breasts would dry out a bit. One of the best things about this dish is how incredibly moist the chicken meat is and part of the reason for that is because chicken thighs are a fattier/tastier cut of meat. The bones also impart some flavor to the whole dish - kind of like when you make chicken stock with the carcass of a turkey/chicken. You could always give it a try though and let me know! I have skinned the chicken thighs in the past with successful results. I know what you mean about chicken skin and bones - I always end up with a nice little pile of carnage after making this recipe and it is kind of gross. Let me know if you try it with the chicken breasts!