Another gf-gf fun fact: I studied Spanish for four years in high school. I remember very few things of the language – important phrases like “me llamo Jennie,” and “donde esta el bano?” and unimportant ones like “tengo pello in mis pantalones!” (I have hair in my pants – no idea why that one seemed worthy of memorization, but I found it hilarious at 16, so it’s still in my head now.)
What I do remember quite clearly from all those years is my arroz con pollo recipe. I picked it up by chance in my sophomore year, when I was 15, to make for a class fiesta. I’ve been making it ever since. I’ve tinkered with the recipe over the years, and I think this is as close to perfect as it gets – and it just so happens to be gluten-free.
Arroz con Pollo
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup basmati rice
1 lb chicken (could be white or dark meat, or a combination)
1 Tbsp cooking oil of choice (I used butter)
Either: 1/2 cup tomato sauce OR 1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin (divided)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/4 cup boiling water
S & P
Here’s what you’ll do:
1. Dice chicken into cubes. Season with salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp cumin.
2. Melt butter or oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Place chicken in pan and cook until it has cooked through.
3. Remove chicken from pan, but leave the fat. (If most of the fat has evaporated, you’ll want to add more.)
4. OPTIONAL: Saute onion until it is translucent, then push to the sides of the pan.
5. Allow rice to toast in the chicken drippings, approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.
6. While rice toasts, boil 1 and 1/2 cup water (you can use the microwave for this – it’s okay, that’s how I boil water, too!)
7. Pour boiling water over rice. Add tomato sauce/paste, remaining 1 tsp cumin, oregano, coriander. Place chicken back in pan. Stir once.
8. Cover pan. Let simmer until rice is cooked through – about 20 minutes.
9. OPTIONAL: stir in frozen peas during the final 5 minutes of cooking.
Makes 4 servings.
Feel free to stir in plenty of your favorite cheese – jack, pepper jack, mizithra. Cheddar is less authentic but still tastes great melted on top.
For those of you outside of the US, I think that the fresh herb you call coriander, I call cilantro. What I used in this recipe is the ground, dried spice from the root of the herb, but the fresh stuff does taste great stirred in at the end or as a garnish. If you do not like coriander, you can simply omit – the dish will still be tasty and flavorful from the cumin.
In my vegetarian days, I often made this with tofu instead of chicken, or, with beans. To do so, start at step five (toasting the rice) and add fully cooked beans at the same time you add the boiling water.
Hope you enjoy!