Style at a Certain Age is a lifestyle blog by Beth Djalali dedicated to aging with grace, strength, and beauty.
Hello friends! Welcome to Kelly’s Kitchen on this beautiful fall Saturday. Way back, mid-summer, a reader requested a specific comfort food that I was so excited to make, but also felt like it would be better to wait until the weather turned cool. So, I put it on the back burner, so to speak. This week, though, I felt that it would be a great fall recipe to share with y’all. Today, we are making Arroz con Pollo – Latin chicken and rice.
Don’t quote me on this, but I am pretty sure every culture has a chicken and rice recipe. The comfort food of a nation, chicken and rice has it all. No matter the cuisine, comfort is inherent to the humble main ingredients. We covered a Persian version with our Joojeh Kabob recipe, so let’s do a Latin version today.
The main seasoning for this dish is a Latin spice blend called Sazon. You can find it already blended at some supermarkets, but it’s easy to make it yourself, as I did. Sazon consists of Coriander, Cumin, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Salt and Achiote.
Achiote gives this dish its golden color. It is interchangeable with Annato, which may sound familiar to you. Achiote and Annato are spices, but are more widely used as natural coloring agents for things like cheddar cheese, or chorizo.
I don’t have Achiote or Annato in my spice cabinet, so I used Turmeric. Also, I have whole Coriander seeds, so I ground them in my handy spice grinder. Then I just whisked all the spices together and the result is a distinct Latin flavor and fragrance, mostly from the Cumin, but the fresh ground Coriander gives it a floral scent.
Combine all ingredients, mix well.
To start, I am using four bone-in skinless chicken thighs. But you can use anywhere from 4-8 thighs. Boneless or bone-in. Get the chicken thighs marinating in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Sazon, garlic powder and adobo. Let it come together while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Rinse 2 ½ cups of long grain rice in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs mostly clear and set aside. Then, roughly chop the scallions, cilantro, ½ bell pepper (I am using red, but you can use whatever color you like), ½ onion and 3 cloves of garlic. These four ingredients will go into the food processor to create a chunky salsa-like consistency. Dice up the tomato and set aside.
Then, in a dutch oven or a deep heavy bottom skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the chicken thighs. Brown them for about 5 minutes each side. Then remove the thighs from the pan and set aside.
Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and sautè the onion, cilantro, pepper mixture until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the diced tomato and sautè for another minute. Then add the rice, sautè fora another minute and add the 4 cups water and bouillon. Stir well to dissolve the bouillon.
A note on the bouillon: I prefer Better Than Bouillon, to the powdered, cubed bouillon. Better Than Bouillon is a paste and I find its flavors are more concentrated and less salty; it melts instantly and a little goes a long way. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend you pick some up!
Bring this to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. At this point, I went rogue by adding a bag of frozen veggies. You can do this or not, I just wanted to add more texture and veg. Taste the broth and add more salt if needed.
Then add the chicken thighs back to the pot and simmer until most of the water is reduced and you can see the rice near the top of the pot, about 7-10 minutes.
Now, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Then, turn off the heat altogether and leave the pot to sit, covered for 10 minutes.
Plate up you Arroz con Pollo with a generous helping of rice and place a thigh on top. I added a squeeze of lime juice, a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and a pinch of finishing salt. I like Jacobsen or Maldon Sea Salt Flakes for a nice crunch.
Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I hope you try Arroz con Pollo – Latin Chicken and Rice. I am thinking that over the course of the season I will tackle Chicken and Rice recipes from different cuisines. So, if there is a Chicken and Rice dish you have always wanted to try, or that is special to you or where you’re from, please do let me know! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! Take care everyone, be well. xo Kelly
Season chicken with vinegar, 1/2-1 tsp sazon, adobo and garlic powder and let it sit at least 10 minutes.
Place onion, cilantro, garlic, scallions and pepper in mini food processor. Process to a chunky salsa consistency.
Heat a large deep heavy skillet on medium, add 2 tbsp oil when hot.
Add chicken and brown 5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.
Add remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and sauté onion mixture on medium-low until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add tomato, cook another minute. Add rice, mix well and cook another minute.
Add water, bouillon (be sure it dissolves well) and remaining sazon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Taste and add more salt if needed.
Add chicken and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low until most of the water evaporates and you see the rice at the surface, then reduce heat to low heat and cover.
Cook 20 minutes without opening the lid. Shut heat off and let it sit with the lid on an additional 10 minutes.
Top with a squeeze of lime, a pinch of finishing salt and more cilantro.