“A flamboyant Latin-American answer to the Spanish paella, the festive one-pot treat known as arroz con pollo is adored across Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean. This Cuban iteration was a famous late-nineteenth-century dish served at Casa Arana, a stately restaurant located at the mouth of the Almendares River near Havana’s emblematic seventeenth-century Chorrera Tower. According to novelists and historians, the chicken rice named after the tower was a big hit among Spanish colonial officers in the last dying days of Spain’s reign over Cuba. Now often resurrected at restaurants and eaten at homes for a late Sunday lunch, the deliciously soupy arroz features chicken and medium-grain Valencia- type rice brightened with saffron. It is moistened with broth, wine, and always a splash of Cuban beer, and decorated with peas and strips of roasted red pepper. What a great dish to bring to a potluck!” —Anya Von Bremzen and Megan Fawn Schlow in their 2018 Beard Award–nominated Paladres.
- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1/3 cup sour orange juice, or an equal mix of lime and orange juice
- 1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup annatto oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup chopped seeded tomato
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 6 cups chicken stock or water
- 3 cups medium-grain white rice
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1/2 cup lager-style beer
- One 10-ounce box thawed frozen peas
- 1 cup thinly sliced roasted red pepper
- 2 tablespoons capers in brine
In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, sour orange juice, minced garlic, cumin, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. In a large, wide pot, heat the annatto oil over medium heat. Working in batches, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning once, for 7 to 8 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
In the same pot, combine the onion, green pepper, and red pepper and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomato and white wine and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to cook off the alcohol a bit. Pour in 2 cups of the stock and return the chicken to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the rice and saffron and continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pour in another 2 cups of the stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the final 2 cups of the stock and the beer and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the peas, roasted red pepper, and capers. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste.
Adapted from Paladares (Abrams Books, 2017).