Arroz Con Pollo
by Alan Bergo, Chef, Salt Cellar, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Serves 2 to 3 (as an entree)
Arroz con pollo is classic Latino comfort food, which I grew up eating (strangely) as a Scandinavian kid in Minnesota since my mother was a Spanish teacher. I cold-smoke the chicken (tying them up with butcher’s twine and hanging near a fireplace or campfire for 30 minutes or so), which adds incredible depth to the rice. You could also use a smoker, or skip the smoking—it’ll still taste great! –Alan Bergo
- 5 cold-smoked Smart Chicken drumsticks or thighs, or one whole Smart Chicken, cut into pieces
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 cup Basmati rice*
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup light-flavored Mexican beer (such as Tecate, Corona, or Dos Equis)
- 1 small onion, diced ¼ inch
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ cup high-heat oil (such as canola or grape seed)
- *If you use a rice other than Basmati, pay attention to the cooking proportions of liquid to rice so there is enough liquid in the pan, since rice-to-liquid proportions can vary slightly by rice variety.
In a heavy-bottomed pan (such as cast iron) at least 4 inches deep, heat the oil. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, then fry skin-side down until golden brown. Remove the chicken and reserve. Reduce the heat on the pan to medium and add the rice to the pan, adding a little more oil if the pan has become dry, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the onion, paprika, cumin, and garlic to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes more.
Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of the beer. Add the chicken stock, then place the chicken pieces in the mixture (skin side up). Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, and all the liquid is absorbed. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes. To serve, fluff the rice with a fork, then place a mound of rice on a preheated dinner plate. Top the rice with a piece of chicken and serve immediately.