Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo, which means “rice with chicken” in Spanish, is a beloved Latin American dish that’s similar to paella. My version is simple to make: start by seasoning and searing bone-in chicken pieces until golden brown, then sauté onions and bell peppers until fragrant and tender. Next, add rice, garlic, and tomato paste and toast everything before covering it with chicken broth, olives, and spices. Return the chicken to the pot and let everything cook in the oven until the rice is tender and the chicken is fully cooked. Finally, mix in peas and fresh cilantro. To serve, you can shred the chicken and mix it in with the rice for a more cohesive dish or leave it whole for a prettier presentation (my family prefers it shredded). Arroz con pollo is a comforting and satisfying meal perfect for feeding a hungry crowd. Serve it with a big salad and a traditional Latin American dessert like flan to complete the meal.

What You’ll Need To Make Arroz con Pollo

arroz con pollo ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Season and Brown the Chicken

Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, mix together 1½ teaspoons salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the cumin. chicken spice blend
Cut off any excessive fat on the chicken (leaving the skin intact). Blot the chicken with a paper towel and season both sides with the spice mixture.

seasoning chicken on cutting board

Heat the oil in a large (5 to 6-qt) Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed, high-sided oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, brown the chicken in a single layer until golden and crispy. For thighs, place the chicken skin side down, and sear until golden and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. For drumsticks, sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, turning to brown evenly all over.

browning the chicken

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large plate and set aside aside.

browned chicken

Step 2: Sauté the Vegetables and Rice

If there is a lot of oil left in the pan, pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat. Return the pot to the stove and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. As you stir, scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and mix it into the vegetables.
onions and peppers in skillet

Add the rice, garlic, tomato paste, and remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, another 2 to 3 minutes.

adding rice, garlic, tomato paste, and cumin to skillet

Step 3: Add the Broth, Seasoning and Browned Chicken To The Pot

Add the chicken broth, oregano, turmeric, sugar, olives, bay leaves, and remaining 1¼ teaspoons salt.

bringing the broth to a simmer

Nestle the chicken on top of this mixture and pour any remaining chicken drippings into the pan as well, and bring to a boil.
adding chicken back to skillet

Step 4: Bake

Cover the pot with a lid and immediately transfer to the oven to bake for 35 minutes, or until the chicken registers 175°F on a meat thermometer. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit, covered, on a wire rack or on the stovetop for 10 minutes.cooked arroz con pollo
Uncover the pan, and use tongs to transfer the chicken to a plate. Remove the bay leaves, and fluff the rice. Mix the peas and cilantro, if using, into the rice.

adding peas and cilantro

Return the chicken pieces to the top of the rice. Alternatively, remove the skin, pull the meat off of the bones, shred into bite-sized chunks, and mix in with the rice (discard the skin and bones).

arroz con pollo

Serve or cover the pan to keep warm until ready to serve.

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