Let me make one thing clear, chicken and rice is delicious, whether you have any sort of sentimental attachment to it or not. With most comfort foods, there is some element of emotional attachment to the dish, whether it be the person who made it for you, the place you had it, or the person you ate it with. It’s why people have such a deep connection with food, I being a prime example.
While I’m sure everyone has their particular story with a dish, when it comes to chicken and rice it always reminds me of moving into my first apartment. It was a small fourth floor walk-up, and it was all mine. After getting some of my junk in there, a mattress, some oversized Tupperware containers filled with art supplies, a box of books and a bag of clothes, all with help from my Dad, I was so hungry and luckily there was a great Cuban/Latin American restaurant, Mixto, located just next door. So, for dinner I had a massive styrofoam container of Arroz con Pollo with sweet plantains sitting on the the floor of my empty apartment. It was pure bliss. And, while I’ve never had chicken and rice on the floor of an empty studio apartment again, I would typically eat it a few times a month since this place was a pretty typical date night for Ry and me. I would also like to note they had great mojitos, caipirinhas, ropa vieja, maduro relleno, seriously, it was ALL good.
Beyond any sentimental value, chicken and rice is also everything I generally love in food. Bold flavors, there’s some spice, salt and plenty of carbs. My version of Arroz con Pollo is prob not totally authentic (and authenticity is a whole other subject I could get into), but it hits all the flavor notes I’m interested in, bright cilantro, spicy chorizo, and briny olives. This is one of those things where I’ll make enough for four, but it generally gets eaten by just the two of us…
I might also add that is a one pot meal, and it’s pretty simple to scale up or down, just keep your ratio of rice and liquid the same, but add more chicken if you want, or less. And, while I don’t always think about it, this can be a meal made with “pantry” items, I’m including frozen items here. I generally have just about everything I need to make this in the house, though you may need need to grab a fresh pepper, or cilantro, (but let’s not kid ourselves, I ALWAYS have fresh cilantro, I’m obsessed with the stuff).
I had a massive styrofoam container of Arroz con Pollo with sweet plantains sitting on the the floor of my empty apartment. It was pure bliss.
Chicken & Rice
with chorizo and olives
- 1 lb chicken, bone in and skin on – here I used 2 thighs and 1 breast
- 1/4 lb dried chorizo – cubed
- 1 yellow onion – diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper – diced
- Large bunch of cilantro stems – finely chopped, save the leafy bits for topping later
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 C green olives – stuffed with pimento are good here
- 1 c Medium grain rice
- 1 1/2 C Water
Your aiming for a 1:1.5 ration of rice to water here. You want firm rice that isn’t over cooked.
First up, season your chicken with a good bit of salt and brown it in a large pan. Remember we are going for a 1 pot meal here, so make sure it’ll be large enough to hold the cooked rice too. Once the chicken is nicely browned, remove it from your pan and set aside. Remove any excess chicken fat from your pan, this will depend on what cuts you use, but those thighs I like, tend to give off a lot of fat.
Next, add your chopped chorizo to the pan to brown and render out that delish garlicky, paprika flavored oil. Once browned, remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside with the chicken.
Add in your onions, red pepper, cilantro stems, a good pinch salt and cook until translucent. Remember that the salt here is going to be used to season all the rice you add in, so be generous, you want this to taste good. And be sure to scrape up any browned bits from the chicken and chorizo that are left at the bottom of the pan. You want all that good stuff. Once all your aromatics are nice and soft you can go ahead and add in your crushed garlic, tomato paste and turmeric and cook till you can smell the garlic and your tomato paste is slightly brown, maybe 1-2 mins, not long, and make sure you don’t burn this.
Now add in your rice and stir to coat each grain with the oil and aromatics in the pan. You also want to get the rice slightly toasted. This should only take about 2-3mins of continual stirring, no more. You’ll notice the rice gets slightly translucent and you’ll be able to smell it getting toasty. Then you are ready to add in your water and stir just to make sure there are no pockets of dry rice, and nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan. I would recommend quickly checking your seasoning here and add more salt if needed. Then you can go ahead and add your chicken back to the pan along with the chorizo and add in your olives. Cover and let simmer for 15-20mins. Once all the liquid is absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit for at least 5 mins.
Now you’re ready to plate up. I suggest you make sure to get some of the brown crispy bits of rice that will be at the bottom of the pan and definitely top with lots of cilantro. (Far more than the lame amount I used in these pics.) And, eat up!
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