Arroz con pollo is a deliciously soul-warming dish prepared with layers of aromatic ingredients, which makes for a tender, juicy and succulent meal with just the right amount of “kick”!
Arroz con Pollo, When Chicken and Rice Come Flavorfully Together
What could be more comforting and warming than a succulent meal of chicken and rice simmered together in a single pot or pan, all juicy and rich and flavorful?
Enter arroz con pollo, or “rice with chicken”.
Arroz con pollo is a wonderful recipe full of extraordinary flavor, originating in Spain; but many other Latin countries including Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Peru have their own versions of the dish, each with their own unique flair.
So as many cooks as there are that prepare arroz con pollo, it seems that there are that many versions of this exquisite dish, each with their own combination of ingredients.
For my arroz con pollo recipe, I’ve chosen all the ingredients with the most flavor, creating my own inspired yet authentically flavored (and easy to prepare!) version. It has lots of delicious layers yielding tender, juicy chicken and flavorful rice, a match made in food heaven!
Aromatic Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo
Two ingredients that one can’t deviate from when preparing arroz con pollo is the chicken and the rice, of course.
For juicy and tender chicken, I like to use both thighs and legs, with the skin on and the bone in; it helps to ensure moist, flavorful chicken.
As for the rice, I like to use long-grain rice for convenience, as that tends to keep its shape a little better when cooked together in a pot with the rest of the ingredients for an extended amount of time.
I also like to create a “sofrito” (a base of onions, peppers, tomato and garlic) to create the main layer of flavor in a recipe such as this; I add that in after I’ve crisped some bacon for a hint of smokiness as well.
I love the warm spices, so I use smoked paprika, regular paprika, cumin, coriander and black pepper; I also use dried oregano, a pinch of saffron, and a couple of bay leaves for color and earthy-ness.
The flavor of white wine adds a touch of needed acidity to this comforting recipe, and using chicken broth in place of plain water adds some extra richness.
Each simple step in this arroz con pollo recipe creates a layer of flavor, which makes this dish as nuanced and irresistible as it is!
How to Make Arroz con Pollo
One could prepare arroz con pollo either stove-top or in the oven, and I opt for the latter.
I prefer the more indirect (or surrounding) heat that the oven offers.
I like to begin stove-top, then bring things to a vigorous simmer, cover my large braising pan with a lid, and then allow things to braise in the oven until tender and cooked through to juicy perfection.
Here’s a quick overview of how I prepare my arroz con pollo:
- I season my chicken pieces with my own spice mix, and sear them off in my hot pan; I then remove the chicken, reserving them on a plate.
- To the pan I then add chopped bacon and cook until crisp, then add in my sofrito and saute for a moment or two, followed by my spices, the saffron, the garlic, and diced tomatoes.
- I add in a touch of tomato paste, followed by my rice, and stir those together to combine; I deglaze with my white wine, add in my stock and my bay leaves, and stir to combine.
- I nestle my chicken back into the pan with the rice, and bring things to a good simmer; then, I cover the pan and place into the oven to cook for about 35 minutes.
- I remove from the oven, add in my peas and olives, and cook for 10 minutes more; then, I remove from the oven and allow the arroz con pollo to stand for about 15 minutes before garnishing with fresh parsley, and serving.
(The full recipe is below)
Tips & Tidbits for Arroz con Pollo:
- Chicken pieces: I love tender, juicy thighs and legs for this recipe, but you can use your favorite if you wish.
- Rice: Long-grain rice is my personal pick for arroz con pollo, because even though it gets very soft and tender while cooking, and does break down quite a bit, it doesn’t become quite as starchy in the way that a short-grain rice would.
- Roasted red pepper for extra flavor, or use fresh: I prefer to slice roasted red peppers from a jar for the recipe, as this adds more smoky flavor; but feel free to use a fresh red bell pepper as a substitution.
- Saffron threads: Saffron adds a beautiful color and subtle flavor to this recipe; however, it can be a little pricy. So you can skip the saffron if you prefer. Saffron can be found in the spice section of the market, typically in a very small jar, and you will only need a pinch. (I get mine from Trader Joe’s)
- White wine: The white wine adds great flavor to the dish, and evaporates out once added into the pan; however, you can leave it out altogether, and just add more chicken broth.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Arroz con Pollo
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 882 calories
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
• 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
• 4 chicken legs, skin on
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
• 4 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
• 1 onion, very finely minced
• 1/2 cup finely minced roasted red pepper (from a jar)
• 1/4 cup finely minced green bell pepper
• Pinch saffron threads (about 1/4 teaspoon)
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 (14.5 ounce / 411 gram) petite diced tomatoes, drained very well of juices
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
• 2 bay leaves
• 1/2 cup white wine (sauvignon blanc is a fine pick)
• 3 cups warm chicken broth
• 1/2 cup peas
• 2 tablespoons small green olives (Spanish style), halved
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
-Preheat your oven to 350°.
-Prepare your spice mixture by adding the smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, paprika, dried oregano and black pepper into a ramekin, and mixing to combine.
-Add your chicken pieces to a large bowl or platter, and sprinkle over half of the spice mixture, along with a couple of good pinches of salt, and rub into the chicken.
-Place a braising pan or Dutch oven (roughly 4 quart) over medium-high heat, and add in about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; once very hot, add in the chicken pieces skin-side down (work in two batches as to not overcrowd), and allow the chicken to brown, about 3-4 minutes per side; remove the chicken from the pan and hold on a plate, repeat with remaining chicken, and then pour off/wipe out the pan of oil and any burned bits.
-Place the braiser/pan back onto medium-high heat, and add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; add in the chopped bacon and allow it to crisp and become golden, then add in the onions, diced green bell pepper and roasted red pepper slices, and saute for about 2 minutes until softened.
-Add in the saffron and the remainder of the spice mixture and stir to combine for about 30 seconds; then, add in the garlic and the diced tomatoes and stir those in as well.
-Once aromatic, stir in the tomato paste, then add in the rice and stir that into the mixture to coat it well, allowing it to “toast” for about 1-2 minutes, stirring.
-Next, pour in the wine and allow that to bubble up for a few seconds.
-Add in the bay leaves and the warm chicken broth, and stir to combine.
-Nestle the chicken pieces back into the pan and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and place into the oven to cook for 35 minutes.
-After 35 minutes, remove from oven and add the peas and the olives, then place back into the oven for 10 minutes more.
-Remove from oven, uncover, and allow the arroz con pollo to sit for 10-15 minutes before garnishing with chopped parsley and serving.