Sunday, December 02, 2012

Gourmet: Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

I haven't been very cultural lately.  I blame it on Thanksgiving.  I should actually be more worried about the fact that I haven't been very Christmasy yet, but I blame that on the fact that it's 80 degrees out.  Yes, 80 degrees in DECEMBER.  I have a feeling I'm going to be a scrooge this year unless the temperature starts dropping.  But tonight I decided to make something that goes right along with the warm weather: a Cuban dish.  Very cultural.

Okay, so it's just chicken and rice.  At least let me pretend I'm being worldly.  I mean, the thing even has olives in it.  And saffron.  That's different, right?  And no, I did not use the recipe from Tastes Like Cuba where he calls for cream of mushroom soup.  Really.  See?  At least I went the extra step and used a recipe from Gourmet magazine.  You're welcome.

Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, September 2003

6 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, cut into 2-inch long strips
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
¼ cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including juice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 cup frozen baby peas (not thawed)
½ cup small pimiento-stuffed green olives, rinsed
¼ cup drained chopped bottled pimientos, rinsed

Combine 3 minced garlic cloves, orange juice, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Pour over the chicken pieces in a large Ziploc bag.  Toss the chicken in the marinade and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning after half an hour.

Transfer the chicken to paper towels, reserving the marinade.  Pat the chicken pieces dry.  Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then brown the chicken pieces in 2 or 3 batches, without crowding, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes per batch.  Transfer the browned chicken to a plate, reserving the fat in the pot.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sauté the remaining 3 minced garlic cloves, onion, and green pepper in the fat from the chicken over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up the brown bits from the chicken, until the vegetables are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.

While the vegetables cook, heat the saffron in a dry small skillet over low heat, shaking the skillet, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the wine and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.

Add the cumin, smoked paprika, and salt to the vegetables and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for another 2 minutes.  Stir in the saffron mixture, bay leaf, tomatoes (including juice), broth, and reserved marinade.  Bring to a boil.  Add all the chicken except for the breast pieces, skin side up, and simmer gently, covered, over low heat for 10 minutes.  Stir in the rice, then add the breast pieces, skin side up, and arrange the chicken in one layer.  Return to a simmer.

Cover the pot tightly, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the pot from the oven, and scatter the peas, olives, and pimientos over the rice and chicken (do not stir).  Return the pot to the oven for another 10 to 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.  Discard the bay leaf and serve.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

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