Monday, May 3, 2010

Arroz con Pollo

A few weeks ago, my youngest sister called to tell me that she had a surprise for me (a surprise she promptly told me, therein ruining the surprise). Apparently she had just visited my favorite, though seldom visited store (Antrhopologie), found a super awesome cookbook, and bought it with her very own money. And it wasn't even my birthday. Sweet, eh? When I received the book a few days later, it turned out she was right! A cookbook full of recipes from around the world, complete with pictures of each. I'll admit that right at first, I was a bit skeptical. Sometimes books like this have too much variety, leaving you with a myriad of mediocre recipes rather than a few truly fantastic ones. But after trying this 1-pot dinner of Spanish rice and a great recipe for molten chocolate cake, I'm becoming more convinced.

A few things to note about this recipe: (1) it has a lot of ingredients, and it should, since it's basically your whole dinner in one big pot. And you probably have all but the saffron* sitting somewhere in your cupboards/fridge, so it's a great weeknight dinner option. (2) The directions say to first cook this in a large stove-to-oven casserole dish (like a dutch oven) on the stove and then bake it in the oven. If you don't have a dutch oven (buy one, they're great!!), you can do the first few steps in a large pot on the stove, and then transfer everything to a 9 x 13 or something similar. I'm also assuming (though not guaranteeing-if you try this and it doesn't work for some reason, let me know) that you could do the entire thing on the stove in a large soup pot with a lid.

Arroz con Pollo
Recipe from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible
Pictures by Kelly

2 tablespoons oil
4 chicken breasts, cut in half (or 8 chicken thighs)
1 onion, finely sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
pinch of saffron
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup long grain rice, rinsed**
3 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup frozen peas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on high heat; add the chicken and brown, turning once, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. Pour the remaining tablespoon oil to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and cook about 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the green and red peppers and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, paprika, thume, oregano, and bay leaf. Add rice and stir 1-2 minutes.
  3. Crumble in the saffron. Add chicken broth, tomato paste, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  4. Return the chicken to the pot, nesteing them in the rice. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Add the peas and bake for 10 minutes more, or until the rice is tender and has completely absorbed the cooking liquid.
*Saffron is one of my favorite spices. Unfortunately, it's very expensive, but a little bit goes a long way. If you choose not to include the saffron, your rice will still be good, though not as good as mine ;). If you do splurge and buy some, here's another dish that calls for saffron. Yum.
**Rinsing your rice (just like rinsing your pasta) will get rid of some of the starch, preventing clumps from forming. In a dish like mango sticky rice, you want it to clump. In a dish like this, you want the rice to remain individual grains, hence why you rinse.

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