This is a comfy, warm, happy recipe. For me it’s a new twist on a nostalgic classic.
When Taylor and I got married, I made Arroz Con Pollo a lot. It was something that I tried on a whim and loved. Taylor would make fun of me, because every time I made it, I was always freaking out about the rice! It was gonna burn or it was gonna be crunchy, or it was gonna be burned and crunchy! Most of the time it turned out Ok. At least, if one part of the rice was burnt, there was usually enough that tasted good.
I loved the flavors so much, but I didn’t like trying to cook that much rice on the stovetop with a bunch of liquids that weren’t water in a big dutch oven that seemed to take an eternity on low and burn immediately on one setting above low.
This is my way of cheating…getting all of those delicious flavors without having to worry about what is going happen to the rice.
First you just make rice like your mama taught you.
Twice as much water as rice.
Boil the water.
Turn heat all the way to low. Lid on.
Check in 10 minutes.
BAM! Perfect rice. At least, that’s how my mom taught me to make rice.
Then you make the sauce: chicken stock, white wine, saffron, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaf. You don’t absolutely have to puree it. I just like the homogenous texture. Having some onions and tomato chunks won’t ruin it, and it would really be closer to the texture of typical Arroz Con Pollo if you don’t puree it.
After you make the rice, the sauce, and the topping, it’s as simple as layering, mixing and popping in the oven.
Don’t forget to stir!
Bake in the oven until golden brown
Also, traditional Arroz Con Pollo doesn’t have cheese (the Mexican version does, but this is the Spanish version). At first I had a hard time deciding what cheese to use. I didn’t want it to overpower the delicate flavors of saffron, bay leaf and tomato, but come on! What’s a casserole without cheese? I settled on Manchego because it’s from Spain and it has a mild flavor. It complimented the casserole perfectly!
This fed Taylor and I for a week, plus it reminds us of our early married days all those long years (not even 3) ago! We were living in a teeny apartment right outside of Santa Barbara, and we just had our kitty, Hector back then. He hated apartment life so much. We lived too close to the highway to let him outside, and he got fat because all there was for him to do was eat and lounge around.
Those were the days when I wasn’t as comfortable with savory cooking. I remember a few panic attacks after we ate. What if I didn’t cook the chicken all the way!? What if I left the food out for too long and it goes bad when I put it back in the fridge? Fortunately we have survived thus far!
I would also wonder how many days in a row I could make spaghetti and get away with it (sometimes I still wonder).
And there were some times when we ate really late because I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take me to make some grand recipe. I’m always on time to work and events and such, but my recipes never are. If I say we’re eating at 6:30, just show up at 7:00. Does anybody else have that problem? I can’t seem to get the timing logistics right.
The more I learn about cooking, the more I realize there is to learn!
I’m having so much fun sharing what I’m doing in the kitchen, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to do so. Thanks for reading!
- FOR THE CASSEROLE:
- 4 cups of cooked white rice (2 cups dried)
- 4 cups of shredded chicken meat (dark meat preffered)
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 2 cups of white wine
- 1½ cups spanish green olives with pimientos
- 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes, fully drained
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 tbl vegetable oil
- pinch of saffron
- salt and pepper to taste
- bay leaf
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup manchego cheese, grated
- 2 tbl unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- Add saffron to white wine and let sit for five minutes. Let saffron bloom.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add onion, and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent, about five minutes.
- Add wine, saffron, and bay leaf slowly to onion mixture while whisking. Let simmer about 10 minutes, stirring often, until it is reduced by about half. Add chicken stock and tomatoes and simmer again for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I use about ¾ tsp of each.
- Pre-heat oven to 375.
- Take sauce off heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Add sauce to food processor and mix until smooth, or use an immersion blender directly in the sauce pan.
- Mix all ingredients for the topping and set aside
- To a greased, 9x13" baking dish, add rice, chicken, olives, and sauce. Stir to combine.
- Top with bread crumb mixture.
- Bake in oven, uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until casserole is thoroughly heated and topping is golden brown.
- Sprinkle with cilantro.
- Serve hot!