Well I’m very pleased to be writing my first blog entry ever today. Mack and I have been talking about starting a food blog for a while now, so I’m very excited to actually be doing this. We love food and cooking and it feels great to finally have an appropriate place to share our culinary experiences & recipes. Hopefully, we will succeed in keeping you entertained, and full of delicious treats and ideas.
Last week I was going through some of my old recipes and I ran across one for arroz con pollo. I love this dish. Partly because it’s fun to say (arrrrrroz con poyyo!), but mostly because it’s a delicious and hearty chicken dish that is super easy to make. Also, I get to use my big cast-iron dutch oven, which I love to use.
My grandma gave me this dutch oven for Christmas about 9 years ago when I was visiting her in Southern California from San Francisco. I was very excited to receive such a useful and sturdy pan, but I didn’t want to carry this INCREDIBLY heavy item on the airplane back home with me. So I was pretty happy when my parents offered to mail it to me. I can only imagine the discomfort of the poor postal worker who had to carry a cast iron dutch oven around in his mail bag all day …. BUT I am very happy to have it in my possession now. And I take very good care of it so it will last forever. This means washing it with very hot water and a scrub brush with no soap immediately after using it, and making sure that it is completely dry before putting it back on the shelf. I also spray a bit of non-stick spray on the inside to further protect it from rust. Cleaning it is kind of a pain, but it’s worth it. Cast iron cookware can last forever if you take good care of it. Here’s more info on maintaining your cast iron cookware: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/castironcookware
The recipe that I use for arroz con pollo is one that I found a few years ago while watching the Food Network. This is probably the fourth or fifth time that I have used this recipe, but I have never actually made it exactly as the recipe calls for it – for a couple of reasons. First, I have never made the salsa verde because I don’t own a mortar and pestle, OR a food processor, so I have never taken the time to figure out another way to make it. (Plus the dish is so good on its own that I don’t think the salsa is necessary.) Second, I have not been able to find a good, authentic, dry chorizo sausage at Lucky supermarket. I have used andouille sausage, and some other spicy sausages in the past, and both of these have worked great as a substitute for chorizo. This time though, I changed the recipe again, and used SOYrizo instead of chorizo. I had never cooked soyrizo before, so I was a little bit nervous about how it would turn out. Mack makes breakfast with it, and it always tastes great and has a “meaty” texture, so I hoped that it would work well for this dish too. And guess what? -it does! It may not be quite as spicy as some other meat sausages that I have used in the past, but the chorizo flavor is there and it’s a lot less fattening than real chorizo is. The bottom line is that any spicy sausage will work great in this dish, so if you need to improvise then do so. Even with these small changes, I think the dish still comes out excellent.
- 1 (3-pound) whole chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces (I used about 3 lbs of chicken thighs and drumsticks)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 11/2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy!)
- 2 dried chorizo sausages (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks (I used 1 ½ soyrizo sausages)
- 1 Spanish onion, chopped (I used regular red onion)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used about 6 because we LOVE garlic)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warm
- 1 cup pimento stuffed green olives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. The recipe calls for one whole chicken, but I used about 3 pounds of legs and thighs. I wanted to use meat that was still on the bone to add more flavor to the dish. Next time though, I will probably use boneless chicken breasts because the bones were kind of annoying to pick at.
In a small bowl, blend 2 tablespoons oil, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, and garlic. Season the chicken with salt & pepper. Then rub each piece of chicken with the spice paste, cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for the flavor to develop.
In a heavy, ovenproof casserole dish with lid (or awesome dutch oven!) heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Fry the chorizo (soyrizo, or other sausage) over medium heat until it is crispy and renders its fat. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Note that soyrizo doesn’t need to be cooked for very long; it basically just needs to be heated through. It also doesn’t need to be drained after it’s cooked.
Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. I added a bit more olive oil before browning the chicken because the soyrizo wasn’t very greasy. If you use chorizo though, you shouldn’t need to add any extra oil because there will be plenty.
Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Make a sofrito by sautéing the onion, garlic, bell pepper and bay leaves; cooking until the vegetables are very soft and almost dissolved. Stir in the rice so the grains are well coated with the sofrito. Make sure you scrape up all the delicious crispy bits of chicken, chorizo, and veggies that got stuck to the bottom of the pan with the rice.
Add the tomatoes and broth, season with salt and pepper. Return the chorizo and chicken to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and transfer pot to oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done and the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. This part always takes longer than 20 minutes for me. I would suggest baking it for 20 min and then checking it. Stir the whole mix around and bake it again in 10 min intervals until the rice is soft.
Scatter the olives into the finished product. Garnish with fat free (or whatever) sour cream you like and enjoy!
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