Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The best damn arroz con pollo ever!!!

...if I do say so myself!

I grew up (and still reside) in South Florida, a melting pot of different cultures and flavors. Out of all of the different ethnic cuisines, Cuban food is my favorite. I make different Cuban recipes at home regularly, and visit local restaurants for the more difficult to prepare dishes. One of my favorite dishes, Arroz con Pollo, is not to be purchased. It is to be made by someone's abuela, who has just the right touch. I am lucky enough to know such a woman, but I don't get to see her too much. Therefore, my arroz con pollo consumption has gone way down.

Last week, I decided that enough was enough. I tackled Arroz con Pollo. And let me just say....oh my gawd, was it good. We could not stop eating it. We ate it out of the pot. We ate it for lunch, dinner, and maybe a midnight snack or two. I made a lot, thinking I would freeze half of it for another night's dinner. How foolish. That stuff was gone before we realized it. And now, we mourn it's absence. I'm not sure, but this may just be the best thing I've made all year. So go and make yourself some Arroz con Pollo. Please. And be sure to save some for me!!

Here is my recipe. I will not say that all of the ingredients are found in authentic recipes. I have no idea. I couldn't find one in English, and my Spanish is a bit rusty these days. But, the outcome was the same as any abuelas' that I've had. So there!

As with almost all Cuban food, Sofrito is the base to this dish. I've seen it frozen at the supermarket before, but never tried it. I just make my own. But, by all means, feel free to purchase some if you wish to do so. Also, I used chicken breast. But, I usually see it being made with a whole chicken. Again- up to you.


Arroz con Pollo

1 pound of chicken, cut into strips
8 oz of canned tomato sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/3 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. cumin
3 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 12 oz. bottle of beer (use whatever you have on hand, or substitute in more stock)
1/2 c. white wine (or you could substitute in more stock)
1 1/2 c. Valencia rice
5 threads of saffron
Juice of 1 lime
Frozen peas

Soak rice in water for at least an hour. Drain and set aside.

Liberally coat chicken with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Heat olive oil in a large oven safe pot and brown chicken. Do this in batches as to avoid overcrowding the pot. Set chicken aside.

Add onions, peppers and garlic to the pot and sauté. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove and grind up the veggies in a food processor. This is the beginning of the sofrito. Some people leave the veggies chunky, but I like mine pureed. Return the sofrito to the pot and add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, and cumin. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

Return the chicken and any juices to the pot, and add the wine and beer. Cook for 7 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the drained rice and saffron threads. Bring to a boil once again, then cover the pot.

Bake the mixture at 350° for about 20 minutes. Finally, remove the pot from the oven and the frozen peas. My hubby isn't too fond of peas, so I only added about 3/4 of a cup, but feel free to go wild. Fluff the rice and serve.

I wish I had a wonderful picture to share with you, but I didn't take the time. We really couldn't stop eating the stuff, and I barely grabbed this one before the bowl was empty! I know it doesn't look great, but trust me- this recipe is a keeper!!

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