Arroz con Pollo, literally translated means “rice with chicken”, and it wasn’t until I moved to the US that I had the pleasure of experiencing the wonders of this deceptively easy-to-make dish. With an incredible depth of flavor and a rich and complex profile, this dish is best summarized as rice and chicken that’s simmered in a rich, well-seasoned tomato-spiked broth.
Are there different variations of this dish?
Yes! Hailing from Spain (and derived from the Spanish Paella) this dish is common across all countries in Latin America with each country having their own slightly varied version of the recipe based on the kinds of spices and herbs used, the levels and types of seasoning, the type of peas used and even the kind of rice. For today’s recipe I will be making the Cuban-Style version of this iconic staple! 😊
A couple weeks ago I was working on developing my oven-baked risotto recipe and when I finished baking it and removed it from the oven I noticed just how fluffy and perfect the rice was and was immediately reminded of this dish. As such, I’ve crafted this recipe by combining my baked risotto method in lieu of a stovetop simmer (though you can absolutely make this solely on the stovetop if you prefer, I’ll get to that in a moment).
💕Here’s why you need to make this TONIGHT!💕
- This dish is a complete meal that requires just one pot.
- It uses minimal, wholesome, clean eating ingredients.
- It is a wonderful gluten-free meal option.
- It takes just under 1.5 hours to make from start to finish (and half of that time is hands-off!)
- The flavors and seasonings can be adjusted to suit your personal preference.
- It’s a great meal for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.
- This is one of those dishes where the leftovers taste even better the next day!
To make this dish we’ll need the following:
- Chicken: I’m using bone-in, skin-on thighs but you can also use any cut of your choosing: breast, leg/drumsticks etc. The bone and skin adds extra flavor and richness to our meal which is why I prefer to use it.
- Broth: I’m using a chicken bone broth but you can also use beef or even vegetable broth or stock.
- Brown Rice: I’m using a whole grain brown rice. I recommend using a long-grain rice for this as short grain rice tends to cook up softer and stickier and can lose their shape if cooked for longer periods of time.
- Tomato sauce: Opt to use plain, unseasoned tomato sauce.
- Bell Pepper: Red or Green, the color honestly doesn’t matter though red adds a better contrast of color for your finished dish.
- Carrots: Diced carrots are a great way to add both vegetables, color and a little kick of sweetness to your dish.
- Oil: I’m using an extra light olive oil, but you can use any clean-eating oil of your choosing.
- Onions: Red, yellow or white can be used. Today I’m using red onions since it’s what I had on hand.
- Garlic: Whole cloves finely minced adds great flavor to our dish.
- Green Peas: Fresh or frozen, we’ll add our peas in the final step along with any other garnishes.
- Spices: When it comes to the spices we’ll use you can customize it to suit your personal taste however we’ll be using the following:
- Bay leaves.
- Fine Thyme.
- Ground White Pepper.
- Dried Oregano.
- Ground Cumin.
- Ground Black Pepper.
- Turmeric Powder.
Bay leaves, oregano, and cumin are the main flavors that I don’t recommend omitting as they’re what gives this dish their iconic taste. All other spices can be used and adjusted to suit your personal taste.
Now, let me show you how easy this meal is to throw together 😊
We’ll begin by seasoning preheating our oven to 350F and adding our oil to a deep pot. Then we’ll season our chicken with salt and pepper and brown both sides before removing the chicken and setting it aside.
To the same pot we’ll add in our onion, garlic, carrots and bell peppers and fry until fragrant (top row of the above image) before adding in our rice and tossing to coat each grain (middle row of the above image).
Next we’ll add in the broth and tomato sauce and all the herbs and spices (third row of the above image) and we’ll let our pot come to a full boil.
Once our pot is boiling, we’ll nestle our browned chicken back into the pot. There’s no need to mix it in, you can just submerge the chicken into the broth and let it sit on top of the rice.
We’ll cover our pot and place it into the oven where we’ll leave it undisturbed for 45-55 minutes.
So, why bake this dish?
Honestly the answer is control. Baking it ensures a perfect steaming/liquid absorption since it gives the pot heat from all sides at a set and stable temperature vs the stovetop where you’re only heating the bottom which can result in a more uneven cook as the liquid level is reduced and the possibility of the rice on the bottom sticking (or worse, burning!). That being said, it is still possible to make this dish solely on the stovetop, simply cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to allow your pot to simmer low for 45-55 minutes.
Regardless of the method you opt for, do not open your pot to peek in on things within that time! Trust me, you need to keep it closed to allow the rice to cook properly and to steam just right!
After your bake time is up, remove the pot from the oven and check your rice to ensure its tender. When you first uncover it, it’s not going to look pretty and it won’t look “right”. Don’t worry, the rice underneath is going to be perfect!
Remove and discard the bay leaves that will most likely be siting on the surface. Then, remove the chicken and set it aside while you add in your green peas.
Fold your peas into the rice and nestle your chicken back into the pot. As you turn the rice you’ll see that it’s a wonderfully vibrant yellow color that contrasts beautifully with the green peas and bits of carrots.
The very last thing you need to do is to garnish your dish and serve. 🍽️
You can garnish with anything from:
- Sliced or whole olives (pimento stuffed ones are a great option).
- Whole or chopped leaves of parsley or cilantro.
- Wedges of lime or lemon.
- Fresh, uncooked diced bell peppers (opt for red if you want a great pop of color)
- Freshly diced tomatoes.
- A sprinkle of smoked paprika over the top.
- A drizzle of ketchup over the the plated rice (this is a great option for kids).
That’s it for another recipe! I really hope you give it a try and if you do let us know how it turned out!
Arroz con Pollo (Cuban Style Rice with Chicken)
- 1 lb chicken thighs bone in, skin on (seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides)
- 2 tbsp extra light olive oil
- 1/3 cup onion minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup bell peppers red or green, chopped
- 1/3 cup carrots diced
- 2 cups brown rice
- 3 cups chicken bone broth or broth or stock
- 1 cup tomato sauce plain
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fine thyme leaves only
- 1¼ tsp Dried Oregano
- 1¼ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
To Garnish: Pimento-Stuffed Green Olives (whole or sliced), Parsley or Cilantro, Lime or Lemon Wedges.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prep Chicken: Rinse, pat dry, and season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Partially Cook Chicken: In a deep, oven-safe pot with a lid, add oil on med-high heat, once hot, place chicken thighs skin side down and cook for 4 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 4 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Make your Sofrito Base: In the same pot, add the onion, garlic, diced bell pepper and carrots. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. before adding in the rice and tossing to evenly coat in the oil and herbs.
- Add in Rice, Broth, Tomato and Herbs and Spices: To your sofrito, add your uncooked rice and toss it to evenly coat each grain in your sofrito as you let it lightly toast for a minute. Next, add in your chicken broth, tomato sauce, and all other spices (salt, peppers, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, turmeric powder) and stir to combine everything.
- Boil: Bring your pot a full boil and then add back your chicken thighs to the pot.
- Bake: Cover your pot with a lid and place into your preheated oven for 45-55 minutes.(See notes for stove top directions.)
- Test and Finish: Check to ensure that rice is tender and that all liquid has been absorbed. Remove and discard the bay leaves before adding in the frozen peas and gently fluffing your rice. Adjust your seasoning to taste and serve your rice garnished with anything from fresh parsley or cilantro to lime or lemon wedges.
- (Step 7) Stovetop Directions: Cover your pot and simmer on low heat for 45-55 minutes checking it at the 40 minute mark to see if your rice is tender. Do not stir or disturb the rice as it cooks.
- If using the stovetop method be sure to keep your pot at a low simmer so that you don't burn the rice on the bottom or that your liquid doesn't evaporate too quickly.
- Using red bell peppers adds a great pop of color to your dish!
- I've used chicken thighs but you can use any cut of chicken you prefer from legs to breast to wings.
- Once cooked, you can remove the chicken pieces before adding in your peas and fluffing your rice.