Arroz con pollo or Spanish chicken and rice is a standard main course in homes across Spain and Latin America (where its preparation varies country by country). It is considered a comfort food for many Spanish speakers, and mainly why it is so popular is because it is tasty and easy to prepare!
There are many different versions of arroz con pollo (depending on whose grandmother is cooking). This recipe is a basic version perfect for those new to Spanish cooking to start with. Serve alongside an Ensalada de Pepino (Cucumber Salad).
Note: Instead of using a whole chicken, you can also substitute a mix of 10 pre-cut chicken pieces. Legs and thighs work well for this recipe because they are small and easy to stir.
- 1 chicken (approximately 3.5 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, sliced into long strips
- 2 cups medium grain rice
- 4 cups chicken stock (if you like, infuse it with a pinch of saffron)
- 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
Start by patting the chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
In a large and heavy frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil until very hot (but not smoking). Sear the chicken pieces on each side, allowing them to brown. Reserve the par-cooked chicken on a dish.
To the same pan, add the diced tomato, onion and pepper and sauté in olive oil (add another tablespoon if necessary). When the onion is translucent (about 8 minutes), add the rice and paprika, and sauté for about one minute, stirring constantly and making sure to coat all of the grains with oil.
Add the chicken broth and turmeric, if desired. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Add back the chicken pieces and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until the rice is cooked and almost all liquid has disappeared.
Uncover and turn up the heat, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and you hear that the bottom of the rice is starting to crisp.
Remove from the heat and let the rice rest for about five minutes. Then stir the dish and serve immediately.
Arroz con pollo can also be enhanced using other vegetables in the recipe -- it is common to add fresh peas, artichokes, and large broad beans to the recipe. Feel free to experiment until you find your favorite combination.