Kiwi’s family has taken us in as smelly, rough-looking backpackers, provided free lodging, meals, Internet, and 5 o’clock wine and noms. The least I could offer is to make dinner one night.
What I’ve made for both branches of Kiwi’s family is something I’ve made for friends and something I make when I want a pot of comfort food that will provide a lot of leftovers. That’s arroz con pollo.
Arroz con pollo, chicken with rice, is a Spanish one-pot dish. Stewed chicken, really soupy tasty spiced rice, and the brown, burny, crunchy part on the bottom of the pot. The charred rice makes it so good. And the rice is even better for breakfast the next morning.
I volunteered to make arroz con pollo for family this past weekend, since it doesn’t seem like there is a heck of a lot of Latin food in New Zealand (I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am). I can somewhat recall the recipe for arroz con pollo from memory, using the recipe from the lovely Comida Latina illustrated cookbook each time. This was one of a few cookbooks I would not leave the States without bringing with me.
I started verbally listing off what I needed to my hosts. What was amazing was the amount of stuff that was New Zealand-grown or produced, making this a Kiwi-ish arroz con pollo. Lots of the produce and meat in this recipe are New Zealand raised or produced. This recipe calls for optional beer to create the broth. That’s easy, just pour a Steinlager Pure in it.
I asked for some bay leaves, and found I could just grab them from the garden. Um, what? Bay leaves grow on a bush in the backyard. Come again? What blows my mind is that I can’t seem to saunder through a day without someone pointing out a fruit tree or a really good herb garden at home or at a coffee cafe. You’re sitting in front of a passionfruit tree! I stole lemons from my neighbor. My colleague dropped off a basket of plums. That never happens in humid Atlanta or DC.
A Kiwi-sourced Spanish meal. Truly fusion? It seems to go over well with the Kiwi contingent.
Arroz con Pollo, recipe from Comida Latina by Marcella Kriebel. Unfortunately, the book is no longer available for sale, but you can find a Pinterest pin of this recipe. Also, Marcella has a book coming out this year from Simon and Schuster, that I will be buying. Comments from my experiences cooking this in parentheses and or italics.
Arroz con pollo ingredients
-1 3-5 lbs/2-3 kg whole chicken (but you could buy cut-up legs, thighs, bone-in-skin-on breasts. You want the skin, you want it to cook and get golden and get the fat to render)
-1 large white onion, chopped (Yellow works too.)
-3 bell peppers, roasted and sliced (Fresh is fine. I dice the peppers, but whatever. Stick with red or green, the yellow or orange colors will disappear once the tumeric takes over)
-2 cloves garlic, smashed (One more clove won’t hurt.)
-4 cups rice (I like brown rice, but if you use brown rice, extend the cooking times. Jasmine rice may make for a soupier dish)
-5 cups water (You may need more.)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp oregano (I tend to forget this, and don’t miss it.)
-1 bay leaf (I add 2. Cater to your audience.)
-1/2 tsp tumeric
-1 cup peas (I forget this too and don’t miss it.)
-1 can beer (Optional, but not really. You need something to drink while you cook, so double.)
Arroz con pollo recipe
Cut chicken into 10 pieces. In a large saucepan, coat the bottom of the pan with oil.
Add chicken, garlic and onion. Cook on high heat, turning chicken occassionally until golden brown. Garlic burns on high heat, so I’d wait until the chicken is done, then cook onions and garlic together.
Add stewed tomatoes and water. Bring to boil. You could add beer if you wanted. Add the water or beer first to glaze the pan, get all those really tasty brown bits into the broth before you add the tomatoes.
Stir in all spices, add rice and mix together.
Cook arroz con pollo for 20 minutes uncovered. Then add peas, roasted peppers and beer or a cup more water. Start paying more attention if using brown rice, which takes longer to cook. Perhaps add another 5 minutes here and each step thereafter.
Cover pot, cook for 20 minutes more or until rice is soft.
Remove from heat, let stand with lid for 20 minutes before serving.
Add a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper.