Arroz con pollo –literally rice with chicken – is another one of those meals that I crave when I want a good home cooked meal. Each person’s version of that home cooked meal varies based on their personal experiences. I’m sure that you can remember the smell and the taste of the dish you crave, and of course the pleasure that you feel when you take the first bite is similar for everyone.
Why is it that those cravings usually show up right when you’re surrounded by every possible choice -food wise- except for the food you really crave? I could go on forever about my theories on food cravings, but back to arroz con pollo, which again like so many other Latin/South American/Ecuadorian dishes has many variations from one country, region, city, or home to another. The ingredients, besides the rice and chicken, will differ from one family’s recipe to another or simply based on what one has available in their refrigerator or pantry.
Arroz con pollo, or chicken rice, is a delicious Latin American dish of chicken and rice cooked with onions, tomatoes, peppers, celery, garlic, achiote, cumin, cilantro, among other ingredients.
- 3 lbs chicken, assorted pieces
- 1 tbs achiote powder
- 1 tbs ground cumin
- ½ tbs ground coriander
- 10 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2-3 tbs oil or butter
- 1 white onion, diced, about 2 cups
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 4 roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup beer or white wine
- 1 to 1 ½ cup water or broth, adjust as needed (in altitude or with a thicker grain rice you will need more liquid)
- 2 cups rice
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 3 tbs finely chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper
- Ripe fried plantains
- Cebollas encurtidas pickled onions or side salad
- Avocado slices
- Aji criollo
- Mix the crushed garlic, achiote, cumin, coriander and salt together.
- Rub the garlic seasoning on the chicken pieces.
- Heat the oil or butter on medium high heat in large sauté pan, add the chicken pieces (skin side down) and cook until browned on each side.
- Add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and celery, mix well and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 1 cup of beer or white wine, cook for about 20-25 minutes over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, stir frequently.
- Add the broth or water, rice, peas and carrots, mix well.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to very low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender but not overcooked.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve with maduros fritos or ripe fried plantains, a small salad, pickled onions, avocado slices, and hot sauce on the side.
There are also different preparation methods for arroz con pollo or chicken rice, one of the typical ways to make chicken rice is to first poach or boil the chicken until tender, then remove the meat, while separately cooking the rice in the broth where the chicken was cooked, and later combining all the parts together.
The other method – which I used for this recipe – is to sauté the chicken pieces with the vegetables and then add the rice and broth or beer/wine and cook everything together until the chicken and rice are cooked. I prefer to prepare the arroz con pollo this way because I like the way all the flavors concentrate together, also the first method – cooking the rice and chicken separately – is more of what I consider a chaulafan de pollo than arroz con pollo. Chaulafan de pollo is an Ecuadorian version of chicken fried rice and it is also a great dish.
This chicken rice is a great dish for satisfying hungry people – including a hungry husband’s need for carbs after a long run. I like to serve it with the typical side dishes that accompany many other South American meals: curtido de cebollas or pickled onions, fried ripe plantains, avocado slices and a good hot sauce or aji.
Step by step preparation photos for arroz con pollo or chicken rice