Since I was a little boy, I have loved arroz con pollo. It is a pretty typical Hispanic dish that has become a staple in my adult life. When I am having a particularly hard week, I prepare a batch of arroz con pollo to bring me some home comfort.
The person who taught me the recipe was my grandmother. Like most Hispanic families, my mother’s grandparents sold their home and moved in with us shortly after their retirement. Smelling arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) throughout my apartment helps bring those memories of my childhood back.
My grandmother is an amazing cook. When it comes to dinner, she will have all four burners on the stove, the oven and the microwave going all at the same time. She would make a table full of sides to accompany any meal; platanos tostones, platanos maduros, yucca con cebollas en aceite de oliva are just a few of my favorite.
Every afternoon through high school, I would come home and was greeted with the smell of authentic Cuban cooking. The smell washes over you when you step into the house, filling your lungs with warmth and a slight spice hangs around.
That is what home feels like to me. When I am having a hard week and do not have the time to go home, I cook some arroz con pollo the way my grandmother makes and I am at ease. The smell fills my apartment from the top to bottom surrounding me in warm memories of family dinners from years ago.
When my grandmother is not visiting her friends in Miami or my aunt and her family in London, I make it a point to go home for at least one night to visit. I make great memories with mi familia and grandma’s cooking.
Now, this recipe is not exactly quick, but it is easy to make and can last some time for when you do not have the time to make dinner every night. When you reheat the rice to eat, add about a tablespoon of chicken stock and a little bit of oil to moisten it up.
Time: Total time: about 2 hours (prep time: about 20 minutes)
Serves: About 4 to 6 people.
1 whole chicken
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/3 teaspoon paprika
Salt and ground black pepper
2 bags of Spanish-mix yellow rice
1 small can of peas
1. Fill a stock pot with enough water to cover the chicken. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, paprika, coriander, crushed garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
2. Submerge chicken in boiling water and cover. Boil chicken for an hour checking every 20 minutes to add water to cover the chicken. When done, remove chicken and let cool.
3. Follow directions for preparing rice. Instead of using water, add the homemade chicken stock plus an extra 2 tablespoons. Cover and cook as directed.
4. Pull chicken meat apart and stir in chicken and peas when rice is cooked. Heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat through. Enjoy!