Arroz Imperial – Imperial Rice

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Imperial rice was one of my mother’s favorite dishes but she rarely made it because, according to her, it was “too much work.” On those rare special occasions she did make it, it meant my grandparents would be coming over for the afternoon and we would be feasting on greatness. The rice and chicken themselves are not spectacular in terms of flavor. What makes this casserole make you say, “Oh my god that’s so good” is the mayonnaise/Parmesan mixture crust. My mother’s trick was to add a tablespoon or two of milk to the mayo, just enough to make it a thick pour instead of spreadable. She would then poke holes in the top of the casserole with a straw and pour the mayo over, ensuring the mixture would blend deep into the three layers. While I agree it does take a little time to put it all together, no effort is without its merits. I don’t find it particularly difficult to make and the end result is filling and delicious. It’s a perfect meal for a Sunday brunch or a holiday potluck.

Arroz Imperial
A creamy cheesy chicken and rice casserole perfect for potlucks and Sunday brunch.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 lbs skinless chicken, bone-in (thighs, drumsticks, breasts)
  2. 2 c chicken broth
  3. 1 celery stalk, diced
  4. 1/4 c olive oil
  5. 1 small onion, diced
  6. 1 1/2 c white rice
  7. 1/4 c green pepper, diced
  8. 1 can of tomato sauce
  9. 1/4 c white cooking wine
  10. 1/2 c mayonnaise
  11. 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  12. salt and pepper to taste
  13. 2 c chopped pimento stuffed green olives
Instructions
  1. Bring rice to boil in a pan with 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt.When the water starts to boil, reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a separate pot, bring slightly salted water to a boil and add chicken. Cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken and set aside until it has cooled down, then shred it and put into a small bowl with the chicken broth.
  4. In a large saute pan, add olive oil, onion, peppers, celery and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add tomato sauce, cooking wine, and green olives to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir in the cooked rice and simmer the mixture together until well blended, about 6-8 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375. In a large baking dish, spread a layer of about half of the rice, then spread a layer of chicken and press down gently. Add the remaining rice to the baking dish and press down gently to bring the layers together.
  8. Mix together mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese together and spread the mixture over the top of the rice. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the dish.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top is evenly browned. Garnish with pimentos and peas and serve.
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