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Arroz con Pollo (Cuban Chicken and Rice)

Arroz con Pollo (Cuban Chicken and Rice)

Arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice, is a classic Cuban one pot dish. Made with chicken and seasoned yellow rice it’s a Sunday dinner- comfort food favorite!

A close up of yellow rice and two chicken pieces garnished with sweet peas and served in a terracotta bowl.

 

This arroz con pollo recipe isn’t difficult to make, and the ingredients are common and easy to find. But, it does take time and patience. In the end though, you’ll be rewarded with a big pot of delicious chicken and rice.

 

Chicken is versatile, affordable and easy to cook, so it’s no wonder it’s a favorite at our house. With a variety of Cuban chicken recipes to choose from, it never gets boring!

 

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Do I use dark meat or white meat in arroz con pollo?

It’s best to use dark meat chicken in this dish. There’s a long cooking time required to cook the rice and that can make chicken breasts dry out. Use chicken thighs, chicken drums or both instead. Skin on and bone in chicken will add great flavor and won’t be dry.

 

Variations

Traditionally, Cuban arroz con pollo gets its yellow color from either saffron or Bijol.

Saffron, turmeric and bijol displayed on a white table.

 

Saffron is a spice that comes from a flower called crocus sativus. It infuses food with a beautiful yellow color. In Spanish it is called azafran – and some prepared Cuban-seasoning mixes will contain saffron. Why don’t we use it? It’s pricey! So much so, that it’s known as the world’s most expensive spice.

 

Bijol, also called achiote or annatto comes from the seeds of the achiote tree. Bijol is used in Mexican, Cuban and Latin American cuisine for its color and flavor. We don’t we use it in this recipe, but we can, and we have. Until recently, Bijol is what we used to color yellow rice. It works really well, and it’s very affordable.

 

When it comes to getting that beautiful yellow color in this recipe we do things a little bit different, we use turmeric. I know it’s not a traditional Cuban spice, but it does impart that beautiful yellow color we’re looking for. Plus, it’s affordable and boasts health benefits. As for taste, it’s mild and earthy which works well in this dish.

 

Chicken and rice around the world

We’re making a Cuban-style arroz con pollo here, but this is dish is popular in the Caribbean and all over Latin America. Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic (just to name a few) all boast impressive arroz con pollo recipes.

 

Every country puts their own spin on it of course, and recipes also vary from cook to cook. I think arroz con pollo is so popular because the ingredients are basic and affordable. It’s also a big-batch kind of meal, making it perfect for family gatherings.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 pieces of Dark Meat Chicken, bone in and skin on (about 2½-3 pounds)
  • 3 – 3½ teaspoons Salt, divided (1 teaspoon for the chicken, 1½ teaspoon for the seasoning mix and ½ – 1 teaspoon to add at the end if needed)
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 2 cups Long Grain White Rice
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 12 ounces Light Beer, at room temperature
  • 15 ounce can Sweet Peas for garnish, drained – optional

The ingredients for chicken and rice displayed on a wood cutting board.

 

You will also need: a large, heavy pot. We used an oval 7 quart Dutch oven.

 

Prep Work

Prep work is pretty easy for this recipe. But, things do move pretty quickly in the beginning, so it’s best to have everything ready to go before starting.

  • Trim any excess fat from the chicken and season it with 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Make a seasoning mix – add 1½ teaspoon salt, oregano, paprika, turmeric, cumin and black pepper to a small bowl. When using several spices that go in a recipe at the same time I like to make a mix. That way I’m not standing over a hot pot measuring spices.
  • Dice the onion, do a fine dice so they practically dissolve in the sofrito.
  • Mince the garlic.
  • Measure out the tomato paste, white wine, rice and chicken broth so they’re handy when we need them.

The prepped ingredients for arroz con pollo arranged on a wood cutting board.

 

Brown the chicken

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes, then turn and cook for another 5 minutes.

Chicken pieces browning in a large pot.

 

Remove the pot from the heat. I just move it over to an empty burner. Remove the chicken from the pot and set on a plate or pan.

 

Tent the chicken with a piece of foil, to keep it warm. Or, keep the chicken in the microwave or oven. It will stay warm away from drafts. Don’t worry that the chicken is not cooked all the way through. It will finish cooking with the rice.

 

Also, some of the chicken skin might come off during the browning process, that’s ok. The chicken skin will flavor the sofrito beautifully. Just make sure to gently scrape it off the bottom of the pot while you cook the onions so it doesn’t burn.

 

Make a Sofrito

Sofrito is the base of many Cuban dishes. It’s a combination of aromatic ingredients (like onions and garlic), spices and tomato sautéed in a little bit of oil. Sofrito is used in soups, stews, seafood dishes, bean dishes, certain meat dishes and rice dishes. It adds a unique and deep flavor.

 

After browning the chicken, do not wash the pot. Set it back over medium heat and add the onions. Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the garlic, tomato paste and the prepared seasoning mix and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Diced onions, minced garlic, tomato paste and spices cooking in olive oil in a large pot.

 

Carefully, add the white wine to the pot and stir, while gently scraping any bits off the bottom. Cook for 1 minute, or until most of the wine cooks out.

 

Make the arroz con pollo

Add the rice, chicken broth, water, and the bay leaf to the pot. Stir well to combine.

Chicken broth being added to white rice in a large pot.

 

Add the chicken back to the pot arranging it so that it’s not stacked. The chicken pieces should be covered with the broth, it needs to finish cooking.

Chicken being added back to the pot.

 

Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir the rice frequently while waiting for the liquid to come to a boil (it should take about 4-5 minutes). Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

At this point, the rice should be visible on the surface and should not sink to the bottom of the pot when stirred.

Yellow rice and chicken cooking in a large pot.

 

Give everything a good stir. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook the chicken and rice for 20 minutes. Give everything a good stir after 10 minutes. Then stir again after the 20 minutes.

 

Taste a little bit of the rice. If it needs a salt, this is the time to add it. As a reference, I added ½ teaspoon of salt to our arroz con pollo. Stir well.

 

Time for the beer

Raise the heat to medium-low and slowly add the beer, while stirring. Cover and cook the chicken and rice for 10 minutes. Stir, lower the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes.

A beer being added to arroz con pollo in a pot

 

Taste the rice, if it’s still a little hard, cover and let it steam another 15 minutes or until done. Garnish the arroz con pollo with the sweet peas, if desired.

Arroz con pollo served in a terracotta bowl and garnished with sweet peas.

 

Want more Cuban recipes? Try one of these:

 

A close up of yellow rice and two chicken pieces garnished with sweet peas and served in a terracotta bowl.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo is a traditional Cuban dish made with chicken and yellow rice. Like many Cuban dishes, it’s not fancy but it is hearty, soul-satisfying comfort food.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: arroz con pollo, chicken and yellow rice, chicken recipes, cuban chicken recipes, cuban food
Servings: 8
Calories: 505kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 8 pieces Dark Meat Chicken bone in and skin on (about 2½-3 pounds)
  • 3 - 3½ teaspoons Salt divided
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion finely diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 2 cups Long Grain White Rice
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 12 ounces Light Beer room temperature
  • 15 ounce can Sweet Peas drained, for garnish optional

Instructions

Prep Work

  • Trim any excess fat from the chicken and season with 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Add 1½ teaspoon of salt, oregano, paprika, turmeric, cumin and black pepper to a small bowl. Stir the seasoning mix to combine.

Brown the chicken

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes, then turn and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the chicken from the pot and set on a plate or pan. Loosely cover the chicken with a piece of foil, to keep it warm.

Make the sofrito

  • Do not wash the pot. Set it back over medium heat and add the onions. Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic, tomato paste and the prepared seasoning mix (1½ teaspoon of salt, oregano, paprika, turmeric, cumin and black pepper) to the pot. Stir well until combined. and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Carefully, add the white wine to the pot and stir, while gently scraping any bits off the bottom. Cook for 1 minute, or until most of the wine cooks out.

Make the arroz con pollo

  • Add the rice, chicken broth, water, and the bay leaf to the pot. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the chicken back to the pot. Arrange it so that it’s not stacked.
  • Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir the rice frequently while waiting for the liquid to come to a boil.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • The rice should now be visible on the surface and should not sink to the bottom of the pot when stirred.
  • Give everything a good stir. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook the chicken and rice for 20 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes, then stir again after the 20 minutes.
  • Taste a little bit of the rice. If it needs a salt, this is the time to add it. As a reference, we added ½ teaspoon of salt to ours. Stir well.

Add the beer

  • Raise the heat to medium-low and slowly add the beer, while stirring. Cover and cook the chicken and rice for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes.
  • Taste the rice, if it’s still not done, cover and let it steam another 15 minutes or until done.
  • Garnish with the sweet peas, if desired.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1666mg | Potassium: 480mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1025IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.


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