This post was published in the February 19th issue of the Capital City Hues newspaper. To read the newspaper article click here.
This new year started rougher than I planned and what can be better than this all-in-one meal that not only is one of the best recipes but also makes for easy clean up. Arroz con Pollo is a popular dish in all Latin countries and as always everyone has their own variation. For me this is a dish that brings me back home, back to childhood, watching my mom over the stove making us dinner every night.
One of the secret ingredients to an authentic Arroz con Pollo is Annatto. We used to have a tree in our backyard when I was young. The Annatto tree has a prickly flower that holds the seeds inside. Those seeds are used to give food that yellowish or orange color that you see a lot in Latin dishes. The way we use it in Venezuela is adding the seeds to hot oil and let them bleed all the color to the oil then we strain it and use that oil as a base for our dish. I usually tint 2 cups of canola oil at a time and keep it in a glass jar in the fridge for everyday use. Annatto is also known as Achiote, the other form you can find it at stores is in its powder version. Either way would work, I used powder on this recipe to make it easier for you to follow. Annatto has a very mild peppery flavor but the most prominent use in Latin cuisine is for its natural food coloring ability.
Now that you know how I give my Arroz con Pollo that great look, the other thing to keep in mind is that for a more succulent result using bone-in chicken thighs and legs is best. For this recipe I cut up a whole chicken and used everything but the breast. I season the chicken before cooking just like my mom does, using salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. I used my favorite everyday rice, Parboiled rice, to read my post about all the different types of rice click here. The next day I eat the leftover rice with a fried egg on top, yum! I think at this point all the secrets are out so let’s get cooking!
6 Pieces bone-in chicken (I used 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Large onion, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground paprika
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground Annatto or Achiote
1 Red bell pepper, diced
2 Medium carrots, diced
2 Cups Parboiled rice
4 Cups chicken broth
1 1/2 Cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro or Parsley leaves to garnish (optional)
In a large heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Cook the chicken, turning until well browned, about 8 minutes total. Remove from the pan. Turn the heat to medium low, add the onion and garlic and cook until soften, about 2 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, annatto and mix well, add the carrots and peppers and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rice and let it toast with the vegetables and spices for a couple of minutes.
Pour the chicken broth in the pan and stir everything well, add a pinch of salt. Place the chicken back in the pan, with the help of tongs nest the chicken in the rice in a single layer. Add the frozen peas. Let it simmer on medium low until all the liquid is almost evaporated, 18 to 20 minutes. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and continue cooking until the bottom of the pan is completely dry, the chicken is cooked through and the rice has plump up and is ready. Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve. Enjoy!