Mike was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay the other day, and Bobby was competing to see who can make the best arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). Mike immediately fell in love and suggested I make that last night. I thought it would be pretty easy and set about getting the ingredients.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 broiler-fryer chicken, about 2 1/2-3 pounds, cut into serving pieces, or 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of chicken thighs or breasts, bone-in, with skin on, rinsed and patted dry
- 1/2 cup of flour for dredging
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (can use up to 1/4 cup)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
- 3 cups* chicken stock
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
- Pinch of oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
Mike mentioned that I needed to get a whole chicken, cut up, which is what I did. However when I got home I realized that I bought 5lbs worth of chicken, and the recipe called for only 2-3lbs. I got a big chicken, and you could tell by the breast – it was HUGE! I’m talking probably a foot long. Gigante.
Anyway, I figured the size didn’t matter and went about my business.
First, I browned the chicken in some olive oil – it looked great when I removed it from the Le Creuset.
Then, I threw the rice in to the pot I just removed the chicken from and covered it in olive oil to brown it. Mike was worried about this step because he has had trouble in the past with browning rice – it’s a tricky balance between browning and burning. I was also worried because I don’t work with rice much and I was terrified I’d set the kitchen on fire. I watched the rice like a hawk, stirring occasionally, and after a few minutes thought it looked pretty good. The recipe said to throw in the onion and garlic and let that cook for about 4 minutes, but after about 90 seconds Mike got really nervous about the state of the rice and suggested moving forward with the recipe.
I dumped in the chicken stock mixed with tomato paste and spices, added the chicken back in, brought to a boil, then turned it down and covered it. The recipe said to let it cook for 25 minutes and then you’re ready to rumble – I was excited at this point because it seemed like such an easy dish!
Not so fast, Haydel. After 25 minutes, I took off the cover, fluffed the rice and served the food.
The rice was ok – Mike thought it had been browned a bit too much, and I could see that – but the chicken was the problem. The drumsticks were fine, but because the breasts were so gigantic, they did not cook through. Like…not at ALL. Mike put them in the oven to try to get them cooked and it took forever, even there. It was pretty ridiculous.
Moral of the story? Use smaller pieces of chicken! I think buying a couple of boneless breasts and cutting them in half would have worked much better than trying to toss an entire breast, bones and all, in the rice. The flavor itself was good though, and I actually successfully cooked rice (even if it was a little too browned), so it wasn’t a total loss.
Was kitten pleased? Not really.