Thursday, May 5, 2011
While my post for Arroz con Pollo (Spanish for "rice with chicken") coincides with Cinco de Mayo, I hadn't actually planned this post for the holiday. It just happened to be dinner last night. Arroz con Pollo is a dish that is popular throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, but not necessarily in Mexico. So while this probably wouldn't count as a traditional Mexican dish, the flavors were on par with our Mexican food favorites. This accidentally turned out to be a timely meal for the date...
While I have had my share of Mexican dinners and perhaps a Corona or two in the past on the 5th of May, I'd never bothered to find out the details of the celebration. I always thought that Cinco de Mayo was Mexican Independence Day. I was incorrect in this assumption. This day in Mexican history commemorates their army's victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The "real" Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th. Of course, had the Mexican army been defeated on that May 5th in 1862 they would have become a French colony, so the date is quite important to Mexico's independence. From what I've read, Cinco de Mayo is only celebrated in certain regions of Mexico, opposed to here in the United States, where the celebration is widespread and used as a marketing ploy to draw large margarita-seeking crowds to dine in (or on the patios of) Mexican restaurants. Not that I'm complaining...any excuse to eat Mexican food is fine by me. I'm certainly a fan!
Speaking of being a fan, my whole family enjoyed this meal. I have wanted to try Arroz con Pollo for some time, but when I found this crock pot version on the Ladies Home Journal website, I knew that this was the time to give it a try! I'm certainly not an expert on Arroz con Pollo, but I would guess that this version does take some creative liberties, thus deviating from the traditional dish. Since I'm not a stickler for tradition when it comes to cooking, I thought that this meal was delicious! My family even happily polished off the leftovers for lunch today. That's a victory, for sure!
Here's how it came together:
I began with about 4 pounds of bone-in, split chicken breast halves.
I mixed together the recommended spices: oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. In addition to "regular" chili powder, I also stirred in some Ancho chili powder. I sprinkled half of the spice mixture onto the chicken.
Then, I heated some oil in a skillet and browned the chicken on both sides.
While the chicken browned, I pureed a can of diced tomatoes (I used Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles), an onion, garlic, a chipotle chili in adobo sauce, and the remaining spice blend using my immersion blender. A regular blender or food processor would work great for this too. I just prefer my Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome...less mess!
I placed the browned chicken breast halves into the crock pot, topped them with the sauce, and poured on some chicken broth. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 hours on low or 2 to 2-1/2 hours on high.
Then stir in 1-1/2 cups of instant rice. Cover and cook on high for another 30 minutes. (I let this cook an extra hour and the rice came out on the mushy side).
Before serving, stir in some frozen peas, un-plug the crock pot, and let it sit, covered for another 15 minutes.
Serve the dish with halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and lime wedges. I completely forgot to slice the limes for this, but it definitely would've been great with a little squeeze of lime. I especially loved the cozy, slightly spicy flavors in this dish with the fresh bites of tomato and cilantro. Chicken and rice = Arroz con Pollo = comfort food!
Arroz con Pollo (Slow Cooker version) from LHJ.com
Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 25 minutes
Start to Finish: 6 hours 10 minutes
6 small skinless bone-in chicken breast halves (about 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 garlic cloves
1/2 chipotle chile (from canned chipotle in adobo sauce)
1 can (14 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups instant rice
1-1/2 cups frozen peas
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro lime wedges, for serving
1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Combine oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of spice mixture over chicken and rub in with fingers; set remaining aside.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker.
3. Place canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotle and remaining spice mixture in a blender. Cover and blend until almost smooth; pour over chicken. Add broth.
4. Cover and cook, 4 to 5 hours on low or 2 to 2-1/2 hours on high. Gently stir in rice, cover and cook on high, stirring once, 30 minutes. Turn cooker off, stir in peas, cover and let stand 15 minutes.
5. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and toss with cilantro; serve over chicken and rice with lime wedges on the side.
Servings Per Recipe 6 servingsCalories380, Total Fat (g)5, Saturated Fat (g)1, Cholesterol (mg)110, Sodium (mg)650, Carbohydrate (g)31, Fiber (g)3, Protein (g)49, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Notes: I used Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles in place of plain diced tomatoes and added in some Ancho chili powder with my "regular" chili powder. It yielded a "spicier" rice, which my family enjoyed.
Instant rice was a great quick-fix for this recipe, but I see no reason why you couldn't add "regular" long grain rice or brown rice at the beginning of the recipe for the same result.