Like its cousin Cajun jambalaya, arroz con pollo is widely thought to have originated in Africa. It is popular in many Latin and Caribbean countries. The Cuban version of the dish is often made with sour orange juice, which is hard to find in the States; this recipe uses a combination of orange juice and lime juice as a substitute.
Use an aji pepper if you want heat, a cubanelle or bell pepper if you don't.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 1 chicken, cut into 6 serving pieces (4 to 4 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 4 large limes)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed; plus 3 cloves, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1/4 cup annatto oil or olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
- 1 large aji pepper, cubanelle pepper or green bell pepper, chopped (see headnote)
- 1 small tomato, seeded and diced (about 2/3 cup)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cups beer
- 1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon annatto seeds
- 1 pound Valencia or arborio rice, rinsed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
Place the chicken in a large resealable food storage bag. Add the orange and lime juices, oregano, cumin and the 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Press as much air from the bag as you can, seal the bag and massage it to coat all of the chicken pieces with the marinade. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning the bag over at least once during that time.
When ready to cook, drain the marinade from the chicken pieces and discard it. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat.
Add the onion; the aji, cubanelle or green bell pepper; and the 3 cloves of minced garlic to the skillet; cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato, salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the bay leaf, beer, chicken broth and saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil; then reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the heat so the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges.
Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid from the skillet. Place the annatto seeds in a small saucepan, add the 1/4 cup of cooking liquid and cook over medium-low heat for five minutes, then pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and back into the skillet. Discard the annatto seeds.
Return the cooking liquid to a boil. Stir in the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for 25 minutes, keeping the mixture barely bubbling around the edges.
Remove the bay leaf and add the peas, stirring to combine. Cover the skillet, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, then serve.
Adapted from "The World in a Skillet," by Paul and Angela Knipple (University of North Carolina Press; March 2012).
Tested by Vanessa Williams.
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