Still caught in the vacation fugue, I needed something easy, quick and simple for a family dinner with friends. The first time I made Arroz con Pollo, I followed a great recipe from www.simplyrecipes.com. It was exactly what I needed: warm and delicious comfort food. This time around, I amped up the spices, and added some red bell peppers, tomatoes, and black beans. It tasted great and hit the spot. The children and adults all enjoyed it, which I consider a rousing success. Next time I’d like to try a more authentic version of this Spanish/Latin American dish by adding a bit of saffron, chopped olives and peas!
Once I decided to make the Arroz con Pollo for dinner, I needed to fill in the rest of the dishes. Since this was a Sunday night dinner, I didn’t want to go too overboard, though I always like the idea of a theme that ties the meal together. I also had more kids than adults and wanted to make sure I catered to my audience! So I stuck with Spanish or Latin American dishes (Mexican food too) and served Guacamole, Salsa and chips to start, with some lovely Spanish Cheeses and an assortment of olives. Then for dinner I made a Tortilla Salad and the Arroz con Pollo. For dessert we had a wonderful red velvet cake that my friends brought from a local bakery, Riviera in Ardsley, New York. Much to my surprise, everyone serenaded me with a raucous and hearty “happy birthday” . . . 25 again!
It turns out that my friend Susan, who joined us for dinner, makes an “awesome” Dulce de Leche cake. I know this because my daughter came home from school the other day and promptly ousted me from my position as “top chef”, if only in my own home, and declared that Susan’s cake was the best ever! As soon as we find some free time (that should be in 2017), Susan promised to teach me how to make this wonderful cake!
4 chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, diced (remove some ribs and seeds – remember, you can always add spice, but can’t take it away)
1 cup tomatoes, diced (I often use Pomi from a box)
1 cup black beans (I used the remainder of the can in the tortilla salad)
1½ cups long grain brown (or white) rice
2 cups chicken broth
Heat a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Add oil to the pan, and when hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces skin side down. Sear until nicely browned about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken over and brown on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the olive oil and spices. Heat the spices about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the onion and sauté about 3-4 minutes, and then add the pepper. Sauté another 2-3 minutes and add the remainder of the ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Check to make sure the rice is cooked before serving (the first time I made this I assumed that after 45 minutes the rice would be cooked. I was wrong and we all ate crunchy rice for dinner!). Remove the bay leaf and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.