ARROZ CON POLLO (Chicken and rice)
This is Mamina’s version of a very popular Cuban dish. She simplified it to please her husband and children who did not care for fancy spices, etc.
1 chicken or 5 chicken breasts, cut up
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons Garlic powder
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 medium onion
5 cloves of garlic
½ green pepper
1 8oz can tomato sauce
3 cups Rice
1/3 cup cooking wine (optional)
5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt.
1 teaspoon of saffron (or you can also use bijol-also known as achiote or annatto
Roasted red pepper strips (optional)
Green olives (optional)
If you have planned ahead and have the time to marinade the chicken for extra flavorfulness, sprinkle it generously with oregano, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Cover and let it marinade for at least an hour, in the fridge. If you didn’t plan ahead and need dinner ready in less than an hour, just proceed and add the oregano and cumin at the end. It will still be good.
Brown the chicken in a little olive oil. Enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. On medium high.
Chop in food processor onion, cloves of garlic, green pepper. Add to chicken and sauté for a few minutes, till onions are translucent. Add rice and stir for a minute or so, then add tomato sauce, water, wine, salt and saffron (to color the rice). My mother always used the tomato sauce can to measure the water, because it uses all the tomato sauce (plus it cleans the can for recycling). Turn heat down to low and simmer for about 35 minutes, till rice soaks up all the water. If you use brown rice, as I often do, cook it for 45-50 minutes.
You can remove the lid, put a spoon in to the bottom of the pan and see if there is still water there that needs to be absorbed by the rice, but don’t do it too soon, wait at least 30 minutes, even if the delicious smell is driving you crazy.
Garnish with strips of roasted red peppers strips and green olives, if you like. Serve with a green salad and if you are after a true Cuban experience, some plantains-in what ever form. Recipes to come in the future!