Cuban Style Arroz con Pollo

Cuban culture and cuisine are comprised of a mixture of Spanish, African, and Caribbean (nod to French, Arabic, and Chinese) influences.

While the origin of this next recipe is debatable, the name literally translates to “rice and chicken,” or Arroz con Pollo.

I remember this being a dish served frequently in our home, and while the translation and cooking process is simple, it is a recipe full of complex flavor and history.

I was a small child when my family and I left Cuba for Spain (Madrid) before coming to the US. I clearly remember the owner of the “piso” or floor we lived in (piso = floor = numerous apartments on a single floor) would often make the dish. That, and chicken soup which was served almost daily to keep us warm from the icy, cold days in the winter.

For this recipe, prepping the ingredients is key. Once you have all the ingredients measured, it is such a quick dish. So incredibly flavorful, your friends and family will be impressed!

Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 5-10

Cook time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4-5

Ingredients

  • 4 medium size chicken thighs (skinless/boneless)
  • ½ medium size yellow onion, diced
  • ½ medium size green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt (plus more for chicken thighs)
  • 1 tsp black ground pepper (plus more for chicken thighs)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1 ⅓ cup of Arborio rice
  • 2 ¼ cups of water
  • ¼ cup of Spanish chorizo, sliced or chopped
  • 1 tsp of Bijol (yellow coloring for rice, stews) *Substitute with saffron if you can’t find it
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup of canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup of sweet green peas
  • ½ roasted red pepper, diced (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 cube Knorr chicken bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp green olives
  • 1 12 oz light beer (don’t go fancy, any light beer will do)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan with lid or a dutch oven over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken thighs lightly with salt and pepper. Add the chicken thighs to the pan, cooking for 3 minutes on each side, then remove and set aside. Lower the temperature to medium low.
  2. In the same sauté pan you cooked the chicken, add the chopped onion, garlic, green pepper, and tomato paste. Combine and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the rice, cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dried oregano stirring together to combine.
  4. Place the chicken back in the sauté pan.
  5. Add the water, tomato sauce, Knorr chicken bouillon cube, and bijol or saffron.
  6. Slowly add the beer. Trust me!
  7. Stir gently and bring to a boil then lower the temperature to low and cover.
  8. Cook for 18-20 minutes.
  9. Uncover after about 15 minutes and add the olives, peas, and roasted red pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  10. Plate and garnish with fresh parsley, a few strips of roasted red pepper, and serve.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and cheers. Let’s eat!

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