Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Arroz con Pollo

This is a favorite from my childhood. I've been experimenting
with it for years, and have never really been satisfied with
the results. Until this version.

1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 black peppercorns
pinch (or a couple grinds) black pepper
1 tsp oregano
olive oil
3 lb or so chicken pieces (I use all dark meat and leave the skin on)
1 onion
1 green pepper
3 tomatoes
2 tsp tomato paste
1 qt chicken stock
pinch saffron threads (preferred), or 1/8 tsp saffron powder
12 or so large green olives
1 tsp capers
3 pimentos
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups rice

In a mortar, grind the garlic with the salt, pepper, peppercorns,
and oregano with a little oil. Add more oil (a tablespoon or so)
to make enough of this mixture to rub the chicken pieces with.
Let the chicken marinate in the oil mixture in a plastic bag for
at least 20 minutes or so.

While the chicken is marinating: chop the onion and green pepper;
blanch, shock, peel, halve, seed, and chop the tomatoes, and steep
the saffron in a bit of hot water (if using threads).

Brown the chicken on both sides in a dutch oven, and set aside.
Add additional oil if necessary and saute the onion and green
pepper just til the onion is translucent. Add the browned chicken,
tomatoes, tomato paste, saffron, saffron water, 2 cups stock, and
salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 1/2 hour.

While the chicken and etc. are simmering, slice the olives, take
the peas out of the freezer, and slice the pimentos into strips.

Lift out the chicken and set aside. Strain the liquid, reserving
the solids, and bring the volume of liquid up to a quart with
more chicken stock. Correct seasoning. Add liquid, rice, and
solids back to the pot, mix, and bring to a gentle boil.

Arrange chicken pieces on top of the rice mixture, and sprinkle
the olives, capers and pimentos on top of the chicken. Cover and
simmer gently till rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.

If peas are still cold, cook them briefly in a bit of boiling water.

Remove chicken pieces. Mix in the peas, and turn everthing out onto
a platter. Arrange chicken pieces on top of rice for service. Serve
with hot sauce (e.g. Tabasco) on the side.

Some of the rice will probably stick to the bottom of the pot. DO
NOT THROW THIS OUT - it's the best part. The Panamanians call this
"concolon" (sp), and the favored child or guest gets it.

You can leave the peas out. I have to at my house.

Some cooks bone the chicken and slice it into strips before browning
it. This is, quite obviously, bizarre and wrong. How are you going
to suck the bones at the table?