Everyone Loves Arroz con Pollo (especially mine)
From Puerto Rico to Mexico, Cuba to the Andes, families make Arroz con Pollo or chicken with rice for their supper table. We make it at least once a week. My husband has his preferred technique (searing the chicken in a wok), I have mine (using the rendered chicken fat to fry the onions and rice.) My wise boys never comment on whose arroz con pollo is better. (Although mine wins hands down. Shh…)
Deeply caramelizing the onions makes a huge difference for the flavor quality of this dish. Like I said, the fat that renders from the chicken is excellent for producing crispy, sweet onions and toasts the rice like no other.
A Few Hints for Amazing Chicken with Rice
You need a small amount of vegetable oil to start your onions frying, but once you begin to brown your chicken (skin side down first, please) the fat will render and you will have enough to brown your rice. If you happen to have some extra available chicken fat around, perhaps congealed on the top of some chicken stock in the fridge, by all means, use that instead of the vegetable oil for even more chicken flavor.
I have to admit, if I have less than salad-worthy tomatoes, or a leftover bit of unused onion, all fridge remnants go into my arroz con pollo. Tomatoes and onions give the dish good flavor, but the freshness is not a vital component. Contrary to what the you might think, even professional food bloggers have to clean their fridge of less than perfect ingredients from time to time.
I usually leave the pan uncovered when browning the chicken, but you may prefer to cover the pan while browning to avoid a messy stove. This recipe makes an extra amount of rice, ‘cuz we like extra rice. If you would like less rice, simply reduce the amount of rice to 1 cup uncooked rice, and use 2 cups of water. No need to adjust the amount of tomatoes or garlic.
Arroz con Pollo (Traditional Chicken with Rice)
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 generously
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cups water (720ml)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil or chicken fat if available (30ml)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 lbs. chicken pieces, cut into portions (1.5kg)
- 1 ½ cups uncooked white rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Make a quick tomato broth by pureeing the tomatoes, water and garlic with a conventional or immersion blender. Set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large covered 3qt (3lt) Dutch oven or sauté pan. Add the onions, and sauté for about a minute. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and brown over medium heat until very well browned, about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and brown for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, and hold in a separate plate while you prepare the rice. Leave the caramelized onions in the pan.
- Add the uncooked rice to the hot pan with onions. Stir and toast the rice until it turns opaque, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the tomato broth, which will steam quickly. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and adjust to a medium low heat. Simmer for 25 minutes, without removing the lid. All of the liquid should be absorbed. If not, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.