Arroz con Pollo… The Mexican Plov
Every once in a while I want something that tastes incredible, and heartwarming, and just plain scrumptious! Every once in a while, if a craving hits, I try to satisfy it, so that it won’t rear its ugly face at 2:00 a.m., when I suddenly find myself stuffing my face with two-day-old pizza and snickers bars. That is why this time I decided to turn to one of my favorite simple carbs: rice. A staple in several parts of the world, rice has always been one of my indulgences. “Plov”, a classic Russian favorite, is a slow cooked combination of rice, meat, and spices. It resides as one dish, that when done correctly, I simply cannot refuse.
Dishes similar to plov exist all over the globe. One particular one, that I have always loved yet never recreated at home, is “arroz con pollo”. It is literally translated to rice with chicken. Notice that it is RICE with chicken, not the other way around. In this dish, rice is the star, and the protein is secondary. Sofrito is the flavor of this dish. It is a balance of flavors that comes from onions, garlic, and green peppers. It gives an aromatic and powerful flavor to this dish. Another specific flavor profile in this dish comes from a box in the store. It is a unique spice mix by Goya. It can be found in any major grocery store in the Latin foods aisle. It is a must in this dish. Lastly, the main component in this dish is the chicken. Traditionally, bone in and skin on chicken pieces are used. But you can use boneless, if you prefer.
I love this dish primarily because I can make a huge pot of it, and then I can freeze half of it to enjoy later.
… As I sat in front of my perfect dish of rice and chicken, I counted down the minutes until it was cool enough to eat. I still burned my tongue and mouth scarfing it down because of my pesky impatience. After licking the bowl clean, I sat back and enjoyed my carbohydrate induced food coma. As I pondered how many hours this would require to burn off at the gym, I quietly whispered, “It was so worth it…”
5 boneless or bone in skinless chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (if using boneless, cut into large bite size pieces)
2 bone-in chicken breasts, cut in half (if using boneless cut into large bite size pieces)
2 large onions, medium dice
1 large green pepper, medium dice
3 cups of enriched parboiled long grain rice, steeped in water
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, diced
½ a bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
6 scallions, sliced
1 can of Mexican style diced and peeled tomatoes with chilies
2 packets of “GOYA Sazon Con Cilantro Y Tomate” seasoning mix
“GOYA Adobo” spice mix for seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more, depending on how spicy you want it)
3 tablespoon of turmeric, for color
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
salt to taste
oil for frying
- In a heavy bottomed pot pour in about 1/2 an inch of oil. Turn up the heat all the way.
- Season the chicken on both sides with “GOYA Adobo” seasoning.
- When you see your pan smoking, add your meat. *Do not over crowd your pot. If you happen to do so, and you accumulate a large amount of liquid from the meat, pour out the liquid and reserve it for later. Your meat will brown better, if you remove the access liquid. *
- Once the meat is browned, remove and set aside.
- Turn the heat down to medium high. Add in the onions, green peppers, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, until vegetables are translucent. You do not want the vegetables to caramelize.
- Add in the meat, tomatoes, turmeric, and seasoning packets.
- Take BOILING water and add it to the mixture. Only add enough water to just cover the mixture. Taste the liquid and ensure that there is enough salt and spice in there to compensate for the rice you will be putting in later. NOW you may turn your heat down to low. *You want to use boiling water, because otherwise you would stop the cooking time. At this time, if you can, also add any leftover liquid from the meat. *
- GO AWAY. PLEASE! PLEASE! Please, whatever you do, DO NOT STIR! You will disrupt the wonderful magic that is about to happen! Go talk on the phone, watch half a movie, drink some wine… whatever you want… just do not touch this for 45 minutes.
- Once this time has passed, crank up the heat. Remember that rice you had steeping in the water? Now is the time to drain it and prepare for its final resting place. Once drained, lay the rice CAREFULLY over your sofrito and meat mixture. Pretend you are gently “blanketing” the mixture with your rice. Again, take BOILING water and SLOWLY cover the rice just about 1/2 of an inch above the rice. See all that beautiful goodness comes up to the top? That’s your flavor right there, that’s what you did all that work for.
- Let the rice cook on HIGH heat, until there is no more liquid. If you see liquid still bubbling up from the top, it isn’t done. If you see liquid bubbling up at the bottom, it isn’t done. Only when it is completely dry, it is done.
- Once it is completely dry, turn off the heat and cover with the lid for about 30-60 minutes. Only after this time passes, you can stir it.
- Add in the cilantro and scallions, and enjoy!
For a step by step tutorial and more pictures go to www.girlandthekitchen.com.