Arroz con pollo is a favorite Cuban dish, served family style. It is Spanish in origin and closely related to paella, which is made with the same ingredients and includes the addition of seafood. In just about every Cuban household I know, it is typically reserved for a family gathering on a Sunday afternoon, or for a special occasion/holiday. However, there is no right or wrong time to enjoy this savory one-pot meal.
In our house, my mom made it soupy, my grandmother made it sticky; both made it with beer. It is purely a matter of preference which way you like it and I’m pretty sure the answers would vary greatly depending on who you ask. Fried sweet plantains and an avocado salad were also served as side dishes. If you are cooking for a large crowd, just double the ingredients.
Be sure to check out the Cuban Food Market website to purchase the harder to find ingredients like Bijol and short grain rice.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Be sure to let me know below in the comments!
- 2-3 lbs of chicken, dark meat, skin on
- 3 c of short grain/arborio/valencia rice
- 1 onion
- 1 green pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 c sour orange juice/marinade
- 2 c chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 small can of tomato sauce (8oz)
- a 12 oz beer
- 2 c dry white cooking wine
- 1/2 tsp Bijol or annatto powder
- 1-2 threads of saffron
- 1 small can of asparagus tips
- 1 small can green peas
- 1 small jar of pimentos
- 1/2 c olive oil
- Make a puree with the onion and green pepper and set aside.
- There are two ways you can prepare the chicken. For optimal results and flavor, if you have the time, marinate the chicken in 1/2 c sour orange juice and 3 cloves of minced garlic first thing in the morning so it has several hours to soak in the flavors.
- Otherwise, brown the chicken pieces in a large pot with olive oil.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and continue with the recipe in the same pot.
- *Alternatively, you can pre-boil the chicken until cooked and reserve 2 cups of the stock to use in place of the chicken broth.
- Add the sofrito to the pot with 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
- Sautee over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to the pot and stir thoroughly.
- Add chicken stock, white cooking wine, bay leaf, saffron threads and Bijol (or annatto powder).
- Add the cans of asparagus tips, peas and pimentos, including the liquid, to the pot.
- Add the chicken, then add the rice.
- Reduce heat to low/med-low and cook until most or all of the liquid has been absorbed, checking frequently to ensure the rice doesn't burn.
- Add the beer at the end of cooking for extra flavor.
- Bijol is essential to proper coloring and flavoring of this dish. While you can find it on Amazon, it's twice the cost it should be. It is available for purchase at the Cuban Food Market website, who carries all the ingredients you need for traditional Cuban cooking.