Monday, August 26, 2013

Arroz Con Pollo

     From a culinary standpoint, last week was a disaster.  Making a good meal is almost an obsession with me so if that first bite isn't mouth-watering, then I have the potential to become very sulky.  That happened twice last week.  I had such high hopes for both meals and in the end, they were just not that good.  The amount of time that I am devoting to cooking and the way my mental state adjusts to the quality of my cooking clearly proves that I have WAY too much time on my hands. My schedule is another subject altogether and perhaps I will share in another post.  For now, I have thirty minutes to tell you about my culinary success on Saturday night.  Then, I have to move on to my next task. Monday is "clean the house"day.  Yikes, I am digressing already.  On task...on task.

     Do you remember certain meals that you loved as a child?  Every kid always asks Mom, "What's for dinner?"  Being a picky eater (I hate vegetables), I was always anxious to hear the response.  I came from a family where you had to eat everything on your plate before you could be excused from the table.  I came from a family that loved vegetables and not just the regular ones like corn or green beans.  I am talking about broccoli and cauliflower.  I remember the year that my parents grew kale...ugh...I still shiver just thinking about all of those vegetables. 

     Once in a while, the response would be, "Arroz con Pollo" and I was thrilled.  No fighting over vegetables.  No staying at the table until 9pm trying to figure out creative ways to hide cauliflower instead of eating it.  I do not know where or when my mother found the recipe.  I do not remember how she cooked it.  All I remember is that it was one of my favorite dinners.

     Now, I can make some killer paella but I have never made Arroz con Pollo, chicken and rice.  I ran across a recipe recently and instantly wanted to try it.  Crossing my fingers for a culinary success, I delved right into the recipe, changing bits and pieces here and there.  The recipe called for adding peas (yuck) so out went the peas.  I made a few more changes and the end result?  Fabulous, if I do say so myself.  The family was thrilled as more sullen dinners.

Arroz con Pollo

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 - 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup rice (I used Bomba which is a typical paella style rice)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
1/4 tsp saffron threads
3 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

1.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large casserole dish over high heat.  Add the chicken and brown on each side, for about 5 minutes total.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

2.  Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in the pan and reduce heat to medium.  Add the onion and cook for about three minutes, until softened.  Add the red and green peppers and garlic and cook for an additional three to five minutes.  Add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, oregano and bay leaf and combine well.  Stir in the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.

3.  Add the saffron, crumbling a bit.  Then stir in the stock, tomato paste and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

4.  Return the chicken to the casserole, nestling them in the rice.  Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is ready.  This took about 20 minutes and I checked it every five minutes or so to make sure that the rice wasn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.  If the rice is ready but the broth has not been completely absorbed, increase the heat to high and uncover the pan.  Cook carefully for another two to three minutes.

Really, really tasty!  The leftovers were great, too!  Got to run - ten minutes to house cleaning time!

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