January 29, 2010

arroz con pollo

I had good intentions, I really did. I took a trip to the supermarket, planned a whole dinner and timed my cooking precisely in sync with the arrival of my mom coming home so that when she walked in the door at 6:30, dinner would be on the table. The smell of peppers and onions and chicken and spices cooking on the oven was taunting as it wafted through the entire apartment. Apparently, what I was unaware of is that brown rice takes about twice as long to cook as white rice. Was there just some malfunction with my rice that it took hours to cook? And yet, we waited. And waited. And I waited a bit more; by 8:00 I couldn't distract myself with the TV any more, and my mom was insisting, as she gave in half an hour before, that it was delicious.

Although we were so hungry that I decided it was not a time for garnishes, and discarded the latter part of the recipe, it was heavenly. Ladled right out the pot, it was hot and fresh. I'll admit I've never actually had arroz con pollo before, but I hope that this recipe captures its essence well. By my third helping the rice was perfectly cooked, the sauce thickened, and the chicken absolutely falling-off-the-bone good. Probably some of the moistest I've ever had. And you know what? It will taste even better tomorrow.
Arroz Con Pollo
from Gourmet, 2007

For Marinating Chicken
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
4 chicken breast halves with bone, halved crosswise*
4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs

For Rice
3 oz Spanish chorizo (cured sausage), skin discarded and sausage cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil or annatto oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 lb tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 (12oz) bottle beer (not dark)
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (I ended up using about 4 cups of chicken broth to compensate for the rice soaking up the liquid)
2 cups long grain white rice (140z)*
1/4 cup drained rinsed bottled pimiento or roasted red pepper strips

Marinate Chicken:
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 2 teaspoons salt, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in vinegar and oregano.
Remove skin and excess fat from chicken, then toss chicken with marinade until coated and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 1 hour.

Cook Chicken and Rice:
Cook chorizo in oil in a 6 to 7 quart heavy pot (12 inches wide) over medium high heat, stirring, until some fat is rendered, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add cumin, oregano, paprika, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add chicken with marinade to chorizo mixture and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beer, broth, and rice and bring to a boil, making sure rice is submerged.
Reduce heat to medium low, then cover mixture directly with a round of parchment of wax paper and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook, stirring once or twice, until rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and led stand, covered, 5 minutes. Discard parchment paper and bay leaves, then scatter pimiento strips over rice.

Note: Chicken can be marinated up to 2 hours.
*I ended up using a whole chicken, cut up into about 10 pieces as that was what I had on hand.
*I used brown rice instead of white, which took an extra hour or so to cook. I also had to add a bit more liquid to get a sauce once the rice soaked up the chicken broth.