Recipe by Witch Doctor
In Cuba, “arroz con pollo” has the same status of a national dish. But even among serious cooks, the rules for constructing it are changing. The freshly made pastes (adobo and recaito), as well as the flavor-intensive olives, capers, and pimientos, still define the dish. But without the lard and the salt pork that health-conscious modern cooks have put behind them, the proud insistence on cooking the rice in plain water is yielding to the richer flavors of chicken broth or beer. Plantanos fritos (sautéed sweet bananas) are the classic accompaniment to this dish
- 1 roasting chicken, cut up as directed
- 1 smoked kielbasa, sausage, cut in 2 inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon vinegar or 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, smashed flat
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, cut up
- 4 -5 sprigs cilantro
- 4 cups water
- 1 small onion
- 2 italian green peppers or 1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
- 6 aji dulce chilies, if available, cored and seeded
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
- 1⁄4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs cilantro, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup salt pork, diced
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 12 ounces beer
- 2 cups medium grain white rice
- 18 pimento stuffed olives, cut in half
- 1 (4 ounce) jar pimiento strips
- 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
Directions See How It's Made
- Cut the chicken into 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 wing tips, a back piece, and 4 breast pieces. Reserve the neck, back, and wing tips for stock.
- Mix all the ingredients for the adobo and rub over the remaining pieces. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, or let sit at room temperature 1 hour to absorb the flavors.
- Meanwhile, make the stock. Put the neck, back, and wing tips (and giblets if you like) in 4 cups of water with the garlic, onion, celery, and cilantro. Cook uncovered 2 to 3 hours, then strain out the solids and return the stock to the pot.
- Coarsely chop the recaito ingredients, then process them together in a food processor until finely minced but not watery.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, wide, heavy bottomed saucepan, Dutch oven, or skillet. Add salt pork and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Remove any solid fat pieces but leave the meat in the pot. Add chicken thighs and drumsticks and cook 5 minutes. Add remaining chicken pieces and sausage pieces and cook another 10 minutes to brown all pieces on both sides.
- Remove and set aside. Add the recaito and cook 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, then 3 cups hot stock (or 1 ½ cups stock and 1 ½ cups beer). Add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, turmeric and bay leaf and the rice. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to the pan. Stir in the olives and some salt, if needed. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, until all the surface water disappears (Cuban cooks say to cook uncovered until the rice is dry). With a wooden spoon, turn up the rice from the bottom of the pot.
- Reduce heat to very low, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour, uncovering briefly every 15 minutes to turn up the rice from the bottom of the pan.
- Turn the rice and chicken onto a serving platter and garnish with the pimiento strips and the peas. Scrape up the pegao (the bottom crust) with a spatula (it will come off in pieces) and pass in a separate serving dish or scatter the pieces around the edges of the platter. It should be crisp and colored anywhere from gold to brown, but not burned.