I grew up with little to no variance of cuisine. We would never cook Chinese food, it was always takeout. Anything more exotic than teriyaki chicken was practically unheard of. However, Mexican food… Mexican? Mexican.
Mexican was always a way to induce a certain level of snobbery in my palate. This is what fostered my original interest in food.
I remember my mother telling me how much better it was to grind the fresh cumin – comino! – in a molcajete. She has this marble molcajete she would always use for this purpose. I loved helping her mash fresh garlic and spices that were inherent in Mexican cooking, while she chopped fresh onions and green bell peppers. I watched her cook, and this unleashed a passion in me. While we did not always have the fanciest meals, she did well to make sure we had the most well-made Mexican food we could find. To this day, I still have not had better Spanish rice. I can’t even eat it at restaurants; it’s insulting!
This recipe doesn’t require chicken… If you add the chicken (soy chicken for you vegetarians!), you will have a nice one-pot meal. If you don’t, you will have a beautiful vegetarian (sans chicken broth, of course) side dish to your Mexican or Mexican-inspired feasts. Best of all, this is a fairly easy recipe that will keep you coming back for more, and more.
Arroz con Pollo
Serves 6-8. Cuts in half easily. Leave out the chicken for delicious Spanish rice.
- 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper (I cut it into strips)
- 1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1.5 tsp of ground cumin
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1- 8oz can of tomato sauce
- 3 cups water or broth
- 2 lbs chicken chopped into 1-inch pieces (any cut)
- 2 cups long grain white rice (if you must use brown, see note in step 2.)
- Olive or canola oil, for cooking. Appx 1/4 C, total)
1) Heat a sauté pan, or pot, over medium high heat and add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic with a dash of salt. Sauté until onions become translucent, 2-5 minutes, and add in your chopped chicken. Cook until chicken is mostly browned. Do not worry about cooking it through completely, yet.
2) Remove the chicken/bell pepper/garlic/onion mixture from the pot, and add rice. If there is not enough oil to lightly coat the rice, add a bit more and saute until the rice becomes opaque.
Note: If using brown rice, leave chicken mixture in the pot, add liquids, spices, and THEN rice.
3) Add the chicken mixture back to the pot, and pour in your tomato sauce, water/broth, and cumin. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat.
4) Once this is boiling, bring down to a simmer and let cook partially covered for 20-25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.