It’s been sort of a rough fall and winter with health in this house. Two bouts with stomach bugs have left us craving simpler and relatively bland foods. I am also trying to be mindful of cooking budget-friendly meals.
Yesterday, I woke up and thought arroz con pollo sounds delicious. I have never made it, which is somewhat surprising given my propensity for cooking up Mexican and Spanish cuisine. This cookbook queen searched in her top choice cookbooks and could not find a recipe, so I hopped online and found a recipe from Melissa d’Arabian. Score! Since she is the queen of budget-friendly meals with her ten dollar dinners, I knew this would be a good recipe to try.
Her recipe called for bell peppers. Since I went to the grocery store yesterday and I am not a huge fan of bell peppers, I opted to just omit them from our dinner.
One of the things that has really evolved since we moved to Phoenix is keeping our pantry, freezer and fridge stocked with the items that we really use. There is something about moving across state lines that causes you to have that come to Jesus with your kitchen and start purging stuff that you are never, ever going to use.
I have always been quite the freezer foodie (a term my friend coined), however in Phoenix I learned to also keep our freezer well-stocked with proteins we use often like chicken breasts, whole chickens, ground beef, and even lamb shanks (ridiculously easy Nigella Lawson recipe sure to win over a man’s belly) to be able to defrost for dinner.
Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo modified from Melissa d’Arabian’s Recipe on Ten Dollar Dinners
Use a 12-in skillet. (I used our awesome Le Creuset braising pan. There is something about cast iron for one pot wonder dinners)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- One 3 1/2-to-4-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces and skin removed (Totally thought removing the skin would be a loss, but wowser you wouldn’t even know that the skin was missing)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I found that I needed a little bit more)
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups stock (I used our compost veggie stock as that is what I had in the freezer – I always have some sort of stock in our freezer and usually both chicken and veggie)
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used leftover pasta sauce)
- Chopped cilantro
Put first 5 spices in a large Ziploc bag and shake it. Add chicken and shake again. Combine stock, water, sauce and 1 tsp salt; set aside. Heat oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook chicken about 6 minutes on each side until golden (depends on your range). Remove chicken to plate. Reduce heat to medium, add onions and 1/2 tsp salt, and cook for approx 7 min. Add rice and garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant and rice is golden, about 1 minute. Add stock mixture to pan, stir. Set chicken back in the pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked thru. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes. Plate it up and top with chopped cilantro.
While I overcame my fear of spatchcocking a chicken long ago, I am pretty sure that I had never cut a chicken into serving pieces. Note: try to remove your chicken a day before. While I thawed in water most of the day, the chicken was still a bit frozen when I cut it up since it is still a little chilly inside.
Weeknight dinners are all about prep to me. The experience of cooking is far more enjoyable when you aren’t trying to multi-task while cooking.
I loved that this recipe included 35 minutes of downtime while it simmered away on the stove. May or may not have asked for a bath to be drawn for me (a first!). Lovely way to spend 20 minutes while dinner is cooking away in a bath reading Real Simple.
This recipe is a definite do-over and honestly I don’t think I would use bell peppers next time either. This morning I will be making our immunity boost smoothie, time to get healthy!!
p.s. there may have been this one time at Disneyland that I saw Ms. d’Arabian and her family. I was so tempted to go up and say hello, but decided to leave her in peace.