Fall marks the beginning of many seasons, football season, the new seasons of Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars and The Blacklist (YES!) and in my kitchen – one pot meal season! These one pot wonders are hearty, comforting dishes that satisfy our appetites while also giving us a bear hug from the inside out. They’re also easier on the cleanup because, well, everything happens in ONE pot! This mouthwatering recipe for Arroz con Pollo is an extremely worthy addition to the Fall one pot lineup, featuring succulent dark meat chicken, aromatic garlic, onion and bay leaf and flavorful piquillo peppers cooked together on a fragrant bed of saffron-infused short-grain rice.
Arroz con Pollo, aka Chicken and Rice, is a traditional dish of Spain and Latin America but has different incarnations in many countries around the world. There is actually much debate as to where the dish originated, as well as which ingredients it should traditionally include. As I have found, these debates can get um, how should I say – passionate? Puerto Ricans, for instance, believe anatto and beer are essential to making Arroz con Pollo while in Spain, saffron is used to impart the dish’s signature yellow color. Before anyone gets upset with me, however, please know, this gringa means no disrespect and while this recipe may not be 100% culturally correct – it is most definitely CRAZY DELICIOUS!
Many incarnations of this dish call for a traditional Spanish “sofrito,” a mixture of garlic, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and paprika that is cooked down in advance and blended into a flavorful paste. Our recipe for Arroz con Pollo doesn’t call for a sofrito per se, yet still uses many of the same ingredients, including minced garlic, onion, bay leaf and roasted piquillo peppers instead of the tomatoes. Rather than cooking them in advance and blending them into a paste, these ingredients are added “on the fly” which streamlines the recipe while also adding tremendous flavor.
Since this recipe for Arroz con Pollo calls for a dry white wine, that’s generally what I like to serve with it; preferably, the same wine used in the recipe. And since I love the old adage, “If if grows together, it goes together,” a white Rioja, Godello, Albariño or other Spanish white wine would be fabulous. If you have a hard time finding any of these options though, or want to use something you already have on hand, a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio would also be great. When cooking with wine, always use one whose flavor you enjoy because even though the alcohol cooks off, you’ll still be left with its “essence.”
When you pull this gorgeous Arroz con Pollo out of the oven, the intoxicating aromas of the chicken, bay leaf and saffron will literally make your mouth water! One things I especially love about this dish, is that it is as beautiful as it is delicious. Once you scatter the peas and olives over the pan of cooked chicken and rice, the colors form the most beautiful mosaic. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do and I’d really like to know if you have any favorite one pot meals? Please let me know in the Comments section below!