Arroz con pollo may sound quite plain since its name translates as “chicken with rice,” but it is the very definition of hearty comfort food, not just in Puerto Rico but throughout Latin America. This is Milagros’s family recipe for this classic dish. Even though rice is a grain, I think and many Paleo diet advocates agree—that it is fine to eat white rice on occasion, as long as you don’t have any negative reaction to eating it. I just couldn’t leave this traditional dish out of this cookbook, but I have also included a strictly Paleo version that is quick to prepare, grain-free and low-carb.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- 1 (3- to 4-lb [1.4- to 1.8-kg]) whole chicken
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tbsp (30 g) Sofrito; ensure that it is thawed)
- 1 tsp (6 g) fine Himalayan salt, divided
- 1 tsp (2 g) freshly ground black pepper, divided
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 cups (370 g) long-grain white rice, rinsed under running water until the water runs clear
- 3 cups (710 ml) Chicken Broth or filtered water
- 2 tbsp (32 g) tomato paste
- 12 olives, pitted and sliced
- Begin by cutting up the chicken. On a cutting board, place the chicken on its back and pull each leg away from the body, cutting through the skin toward the hip joint. Bend the leg away until the thighbone pops from its socket and use the knife to cut the leg away completely. Rotate the chicken to its side and pull each wing away from the body, using the knife to cut it off. To remove the breasts, cut downward through the rib cage and shoulder joints to separate them from the backbone. Place the breasts skin side down on the cutting board and cut them in the center to separate. Then, cut each breast in half crosswise through the bone. Place each leg skin side down and cut at the joint to separate the drumstick from the thigh. If the thighs are really huge, you can cut them in half by slicing parallel to the bone, leaving one piece with bone and one that is boneless. Remove the skin from all pieces and save it along with the backbone in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer to use for broth later.
- Now the hard work is done! In a small bowl, make an adobo from 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the olive oil, the sofrito, ½ teaspoon of the salt, half of the pepper and the turmeric by mixing them all together to form a paste. Coat the chicken pieces with the adobo and allow to marinate in a covered dish in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
- In a large Dutch oven or other sturdy pot with a lid, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Place the chicken pieces in the bottom of the pot in a single layer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn each piece of chicken over, cover and cook for 10 minutes more.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes more, until the rice is done and the chicken is cooked through. If the rice is too watery, you can leave the lid off for the last 10 minutes or so.
- If you are lucky, some of the rice will caramelize at the bottom of the pot into what is lovingly called pegao. This burnt rice is considered a delicacy and is often fought over! Scrape it up with a wooden spoon and enjoy.