When you think of Hispanic food, what comes to mind? Do you think of flan, empanadas, ceviche, and many of the other recetas de cocina that have become popular in the United States? While those are delicious examples of classic Hispanic food, they’re just a few examples of dishes that Mexican restaurants have made popular by Americanizing them.
If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, you need to go beyond what so-called “Mexican fast food” chains offer. Arroz con pollo, for example, is one of Spain’s oldest dishes. For those looking for authentic Iberian flavors, there are few better places to start than with arroz con pollo, or Spanish-style chicken and rice.
The Lengthy History of Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con pollo, according to Agozar, a popular restaurant in New York City, dates back to at least the eighth century. At that time, “Moorish” raiders invaded the Iberian peninsula from North Africa. Not only did they bring Islam and African architecture into Spain, it’s believed they also brought rice, saffron, cumin, and coriander, all of which played a heavy role in the creation of the first arroz con pollo recipe. As the Spanish began to expand in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Culinary Arts Abroad writes, they brought this dish to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Peru, Mexico, and many other nations in Latin America.
How to Make the Perfect Arroz con Pollo
- 3 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 3/4 cup green olives with pimento, roughly chopped
- 3 teaspoons dried paprika
- 1 bay leaf, dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh saffron
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cup white wine, preferably dry
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups long-grain rice, brown or white
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a cast iron or heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Making sure the chicken is dry and well seasoned with salt and pepper and place it into the pan until cooked, browning on all sides. Remove from pan.
- Placing the pan back on the heat, add the onion, pepper, and a pinch of salt. Once the onions begin to turn translucent, add the paprika, rice, and garlic. Constantly stir the contents of the pan for one minute.
- Add the wine to the skillet, bringing the contents to a boil. Allow the rice mixture to cook in the boiling liquid for two minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, and incorporate the saffron, tomatoes, chicken broth, and bay leaf, stirring everything together until evenly mixed. Place a cover over the skillet, and allow the mixture to cook for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf from the rice and stir in the olives and some salt and pepper. Replace the chicken on the top of the rice, and replace the skillet cover. Let the dish cook for another 10 minutes.
- When you serve the dish, evenly spread a coating of fresh parsley over the top.
If you take the time to make this simple version of arroz con pollo, it’s guaranteed that you’ll impress your friends and family. It may not be the “Hispanic food” they’re used to, but there’s no way they’re going to complain. Helpful links.