Arroz con Pollo (de Panama)
Prep time: 1:00 Overall time: 2:00
6 servings scale / convert
2 frying chickens cut up, or equivalent in chicken parts
1 can tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 lg. handful chopped parsley (or more if you want to decorate the platter with it)
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lg. sweet peppers, chopped
Oil for frying (I like olive oil, but Crisco is fine)
1 can pimientos, sliced
1 cup stuffed olives, drained (Salad olives are fine, but the others look better)
1/2 bottle capers, drained
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. saffron
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken broth, or hot water and chicken bouillon powder
2 cups frozen peas, cooked
Cooked green asparagus, sufficient to decorate platter
3 cups uncooked rice
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot, add chicken, and cook until golden brown. Take out, and put in onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat until transparent. Add tomatoes, peppers, and tomato sauce, and simmer a little. Add chicken, bay leaves, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, about 3 cups chicken broth (either homemade, canned, or bouillon powder and water), and saffron. Turn flame low and cook until chicken is tender. Take chicken out, and remove meat from bones, separating meat into medium size pieces or cubing it if you feel fancy. This part of the recipe can be done the day before.
Measure liquid (if you wish, you can remove bay leaves and run the rest of the sauce through the food processor or blender). Check the flavor; it should be rather salty. Heat broth to boiling. Use 1 cup of rice to about every two cups of liquid. (This is where you can really stretch the chicken, depending on how many you think you have to feed. Just adjust the amount of liquid and rice, using additional chicken broth and perhaps a small can of tomato sauce, but keeping the liquid to rice ratio at the old standby of 2 to 1.) I understand the traditional figure is 1/2 cup of uncooked rice per serving. This is a generous amount of rice by American standards, so you may luck out and have leftovers!
Heat some oil in a heavy frying pan or dutch oven, and add rice. Stir constantly over medium heat until rice is a nice warm tannish color. Combine rice with boiling liquid, and over high heat cook uncovered until the liquid has vanished below the rice. Add olives, capers, and chicken, but do not stir. Turn heat very low, and cover pot. Simmer about half an hour, lift rice and turn carefully, and continue cooking until rice is done. Just before serving, add about 2 cups cooked frozen peas, and about 3/4 of the pimientos.
Serve on a large platter, decorated with the asparagus and remaining pimiento strips, and some chopped parsley if the spirit so moves. Serve the remaining sauce to be spooned over the rice as needed.
This is a recipe that I grew up eating, as a child in the Canal Zone. To me, it is the ultimate Christmas dinner, wedding reception buffet item or just about any other time that a celebration is needed. While it does take some time for prep, the end result is more than worth it!
Have you made it? What'd you think?
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