Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Arroz con pollo
Please forgive the bastardization of this classic Spanish recipe. Most of the time I strive for authenticity in my kitchen, but in this recipe, I was going for quick and easy. I use very few pre-packaged "convenience" food products. I prefer to soak my own beans, never ever use canned processed vegetables, and it has been many a moon since I've enjoyed a box of neon orange Mac and Cheese. This stuff is one of the rare exceptions.
It's so perfectly spiced, I just don't think I could improve on it in this application. And besides, we all need a break once in a while. Put those 17 bottles of spices back in the cabinet and grab a packet of Mahatma Saffron Yellow Rice.
This is one of my favorite one-pot wonders. It's crazy flavorful and really easy to scale up. If I were cooking for a crowd I'd probably use whole chicken pieces and braise them for a bit before adding the rice, but for a weeknight, a couple of diced boneless breasts or thighs are easiest.
2 small or 1 mondo boneless skinless chicken breast, diced (some chicken breasts are SO freaking big these days, I weighed the one I got out of the freezer and it was 14oz! And isn't even the biggest I've seen. Jeez)
1 orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a small onion, finely chopped
1/2 a red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup (which is an 8oz can) tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, or tomato puree (NOT pasta sauce or marinara - you want to use plain tomato-only sauce)
2/3 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
1 packet Yellow Rice
2/3 cup frozen peas
Juice your citrus into a non-reactive bowl. Add your garlic and chicken chunks and season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, tossing well to combine. Allow to marinate for about half an hour, you don't want to leave it too long or the acid will start to cook the chicken.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop your onion and pepper. Make a cocktail. Pet your puppies.
When you're ready to cook, heat a glug of olive oil in a small heavy oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid (a small Dutch oven works beautifully) and blot the chicken chunks dry on paper towels. Don't discard the marinade. Brown the chicken on all sides. Add the onion and red pepper and allow them to soften for a couple of minutes, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. Although it's tempting, don't salt as you go - the Yellow Rice packet is bringing plenty of salt to the party. You can pepper, though. Now add the wine, bring to a boil, and scrape up any remaining browned bits. Allow the wine to reduce by half and then add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, and leftover marinade. Bring this back a boil, stir in the Yellow Rice packet with all it's magical seasonings, cover, and pop into the oven for about 20 minutes. Pull it out and give it a stir, taste a couple of rice grains to gauge the doneness, then cover again and bake another 5-10 minutes (longer if the rice is still pretty firm, shorter if it seemed almost done). Remove from the oven and uncover, tasting the rice again to make sure it's cooked, and if it is or is very close, scatter the frozen peas over the top and re-cover. If not, throw it out, you ruined it. I kid. If anything you may have to add more liquid and bake longer, since some oranges are juicier than others and general humidity differs from place to place (but I've never had a problem with these proportions). Anyway, let it sit covered off the heat for about 5 minutes for the peas to steam up nice and plump, stir them through, plate it up and devour with hot sauce.
Serves 2, takes about an hour, largely hands-off.