As a family meal, arroz con pollo is as American as meatballs and spaghetti. Or tacos.
It’s easy to forget about something as basic as arroz con pollo. But when friends came to dinner for Superbowl Sunday I decided to haul out my old baked chicken on rice recipe and do some updating. Yep, I’m talking about a casserole — a one-dish meal. It’s not exactly plain but it’s also not fancy. For me, it’s family style and it turned out to be totally delicious with a big red wine.
Thing is, when I started to make the ACP I realized I had given my French copper braiser to our daughter. I gave her most of my copper pans last year because they became too heavy to lift. It’s rare for me to buy a piece of cookware these days. But after some research I fixed on a 4-quart Staub flat-bottom braising pan with a glass lid and a black interior that is good for browning.
It was on sale and I was able to beat that price on Ebay, though it wasn’t inexpensive. As a stove-to-oven pan the Staub is a perfect choice and it I am pleased to recommend it. Rebecca won’t get this one till I’m gone. Take a look.
There are two important aspects of this recipe. First: chorizo. That’s pork sausage, of course. But there is cured Spanish chorizo flavored with smoky paprika (pimentón) that looks like pepperoni and has a similar texture. Chorizo is served for tapas in Spain. I used Spanish chorizo (so delicious!) in this recipe. Then there is Mexican chorizo which is softer and spicier. (Epicurious has a more detailed explanation here.) They are not interchangeable. Be sure to taste the chorizo before starting the recipe and, if necessary, adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.
Second: this ACP has deep flavor but isn’t especially spicy. But it can be spiced in a few different ways which I suggest as a garnish. That’s because hot chiles vary a good deal in terms of their heat and will be blunted by the rice. Anyone who wants to spice this up can sprinkle minced jalapeños or serranos over the top along with the parsley and chives, or spoon on Pico de Gallo to taste. There’s always sriracha or my crazy garnish — jalapeño jelly which I grabbed without thinking and was so delicious, especially in big globs on the chicken.
ACP is one of those you-can’t-go-wrong recipes. Chicken thighs— with skin on so they brown little, and bone in for flavor — get a light rub with a seasoning paste. All the vegetables are diced and mixed into the rice. And while I’m not someone to go all Masterchef about evenly chopping vegetables, this is a good place to practice knife skills if needed.
One last thought. It’s easy to forget that the braiser came out of the oven and can remain hot for a long time. I immediately put pot holders on each side as a safety precaution — a pot holder will be needed to remove the lid as well. The chicken stays hot for a long time and I think it’s even better the next day.
(Test cooking: Lisa Deyo)
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