The holiday season is over and most of us had the chance to stuff ourselves with timeless family-loved dishes. With all the eating that we have been doing over the past several weeks, food like arroz con pollo – an absolutely delicious chicken and rice dish – may be farthest from our minds right now.
Who wants to talk about food, right?
But wait till you read about this dish. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Latin America, a region with a rich and diverse culinary history.
Wait, arroz con what? The only arroz that is in the vocabulary of most Filipinos is arroz caldo. Are they one and the same?
Well, not exactly. Arroz con Pollo is one of those rice dishes or chicken recipes that is sure to tickle Filipino palates. Read on to find out more about the arroz con pollo dish.
What is arroz con pollo?
Simply put, it is a chicken and rice dish. Arroz is the Spanish word for rice. Pollo is the Spanish word for chicken. Rice and chicken, therefore, is the English translation.
You will usually cook this rice and chicken dish together in a pot with carefully selected ingredients. This comfort food in Latin America is one of its most popular dishes, right up there with tamales and empanada.
You usually serve it a whole dish with rice, chicken, and all the other ingredients in one pot. Filipinos are used to having their rice and dishes cooked and served in separate containers during mealtimes. That means having both the staple rice and chicken all in one serving dish may take some getting used to.
At the same time, it is not that uncommon for Filipinos as arroz con pollo is reminiscent of paella or arroz a la valenciana. These delectable dishes are often served during fiestas or family celebrations. Arroz con pollo can take on that character as a dish that Filipinos can prepare and serve for those occasions.
What is the origin of arroz con pollo?
Arroz con pollo history dates back hundreds of years ago. And depending on your source, the dish comes either from Spain or Latin America. Both are actually correct, as it comes from Spanish-speaking countries. So there is a little bit of truth to both assertions. But in short, it’s another treat from Spain, just like the burnt basque cheesecake. Thanks, Spain!
The roots of the rice recipe we now know as arroz con pollo can be traced back to Spain, particularly in the Andalusia region, an area heavily influenced by Moorish culture from the 8th to the 15th century.
The dish reflects Moorish influences on Spanish cuisine such as the use of herbs (saffron) and the reddish-yellow color of the rice. The dish also makes use of the colors white (rice), yellow and green (vegetables) which are also characteristic of Moorish influence. Also, the way the dish is prepared (cooked in one pot) and served (communal) reflects the period in Spain’s history when the Moors reigned.
While the dish has its Spanish roots, it has been embraced by Latin Americans as their own. Puerto Ricans claim that it originated in Puerto Rico. The dish is also extremely popular in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Colombia.
Each country as well has its own unique take on this delicacy, using different herbs, spices, and vegetables with rice and chicken as mainstays. Arroz con pollo in Colombia makes use of green and red pepper as well as green beans. In Honduras, celery is an ingredient in their arroz con pollo while in Mexico, corn is used.
How is arroz con pollo pronounced?
Depending on your source, arrozz con pollo can be pronounced differently. Spaniards would say that the pronunciation of arroz con pollo is arroth con po-yo while Latin Americans would pronounce it arros con po-yo.
We Filipinos would most likely take after the pronunciation of Latin America. Easier on the tongue, we guess?
What are the ingredients of this dish?
The most basic ingredients used in arroz con pollo are rice and chicken. Other must-have ingredients are the following: saffron, dry white wine, bay leaf, onions, garlic, bell pepper, chicken stock, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
You may add in other vegetables, herbs, and spices for color, texture, and taste. Other recipes call for the use of tomato sauce, tomato paste, or tomatoes in cooking the dish.
As for the chicken, the leg, thigh, or breasts bone-in and with skin on is more often used to make it a tasty arroz con pollo. Others prefer to use a whole chicken cut into pieces. If you want to make a healthier dish, you may use skinless chicken thighs for your arroz con pollo. You can add more ingredients that will complement the dish as is or to make the best arroz con pollo that will satisfy your taste and cravings.
What rice is used for arroz con pollo?
Rice is the other main ingredient of arroz con pollo. And some say that white rice is the best rice for arroz con pollo.
White rice is most often used in cooking arroz con pollo because it can soak in the colors of the herbs and spices included in the dish. There are different varieties of white grain rice such as long grain and short-grain. Some prefer to use long-grain white rice for arroz con pollo while others prefer to use the short-grain variety in their arroz con pollo dish.
You can also try making brown rice arroz con pollo or using basmati rice just to make things different.
How do you make arroz con pollo?
You can make this delectable dish right in your own home. And yes, you can be a home chef arroz con pollo expert! Surprise your family or friends who are coming over for dinner tonight or for a mid-weeknight dinner get-together.
Making this dish requires several phases involving the various ingredients. You see, the dish requires layering of ingredients and flavor. Make sure you have all the ingredients and cookware on hand to make prep time not exceed half an hour. Make sure too that you have a good pan or pot to cook in.
Cooking time will take around an hour. First up is the chicken. You usually fry it but there are ingredients that also make use of barbecue chicken. Set aside the chicken once you are done so you can move on to the next phase.
Cook the vegetables via stir fry. Then while cooking the rice in chicken stock, add the herbs and spices, the chicken, and the vegetables in the mix.
Reduce heat while cooking the mixture. This will infuse the rice with all the flavors in the pot, making arroz con pollo a savory dish that is sure to please everyone’s taste buds.
The total time needed to prepare, cook, and serve the dish is about an hour and a half to 2 hours at most. Cook time will vary depending on the level of skill and practice. Once you get the hang of it, meal prep will not take more than an hour and a half tops.
What should it taste like?
Arroz con pollo is a flavorful dish that combines the taste of juicy chicken, the distinct flavor of the herbs and spices, and the rice cooked in chicken stock and other mouth-watering ingredients.
In other words, something that will set off a party in your mouth!
Are there any other versions of this dish?
If you’re wondering about the variations of arroz con pollo, there are plenty!
For example, the Puerto Ricans make use of medium grain rice and is cooked slightly toasted. A unique element in this dish is the sofrito (without the tomatoes). The sofrito is a mixture made of various aromatic spices and herbs such as onions and red bell pepper, along with culantro, capers, and olives.
A recipe for the Mexican style has ingredients that include large cubed chicken pieces, along with spicy green chilies. The arroz con pollo Costa Rica variety makes use of shredded chicken and is accompanied by potato chips when served.
There are plenty of other ways to make variations. You can add black beans, cauliflower rice, cayenne pepper, frozen peas, ground cumin, green bell pepper if you want to have your own unique recipe.
And if you’re wondering if any variation has cheese included, the answer is a big YES! If you are a cheese lover, add this ingredient, and voila! You already have made your own arroz con pollo y queso. And guess what? You can even try making weight watchers arroz con pollo or arroz con pollo verde for family and friends who are health conscious. So if anyone asks you “Is arroz con pollo healthy?”, you can honestly say another big YES.
Make a unique version of this dish – enroll in The Bailiwick Academy!
Are you now craving a taste of this unique dish? Well, The Bailiwick Academy has you covered! And it won’t just be any regular variation of it. Check out Chef Joey Prats latest class:
Just like in his cashew desserts class, Chef Joey has added a new twist in arroz con pollo: chorizo! And we all know that chorizo is a delicious ingredient!
Take this class and learn fundamental techniques on how to prepare the classic dish with an accompanying mayonnaise-herb sauce. Not only that, but you’ll also learn the signature Latin-American spice blend that is used to give the Arroz con Pollo y Chorizo its distinctive color and flavor, called Sazón seasoning.
And like with any of TBA’s classes, this class will be taught step-by-step, and will be very easy to follow! And as always, Chef Joey will provide you with valuable tips and tricks!
Enroll now and surprise your family and friends as you gather for the next celebration with the best arroz con pollo they’ll ever taste.
Sign up now at The Bailiwick Academy!
P.S. If you want to make this dish but still want to make paella as well, don’t worry. You don’t have to choose between arroz con pollo or paella at TBA! We have two paella-making classes. One is by Chef RV Manabat, and the other is by Chefs Miguel and Angel Prats. Enroll in these for delicious paella!