Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken & Yellow Rice)

My mother is very picky when it comes to what she deems ethnic food. She tends to cook very North-Eastern American: lots of broiled dinners and baked food that has minimal spices and lots and lots of water. I am very much the opposite. When it comes to food profiles I like zing. I like color. I want spices that make you say wow this is kickin’. I was also raised around several large Cuban/Argentinian/Mexican metros with a dash of NY Jewish and a little Scandanavian thrown in for good measure. I don’t cook American, I cook Americana: the melting pot of all flavors. Since going gluten-free, I’ve reached even farther into ethnic food and found that a lot of other cultures make cooking gf food easy. They don’t use processed ingredients anyhow.

Back on topic, the big mom- or Nana as the kids call her- came for a surprise visit the day after we cleaned out the house (Christmas Day) and we were stumped as to what to do. Breakfast was a premade pancake mix that she said was ‘okay’. Lunch was leftover arroz con pollo that I had made the night before. She looked at it as suspicious mothers often do. She picked at the bell peppers. She took a bite- and cleaned the bowl. Every time that I make this, there’s a fight over the left overs. As good as it is the first day, it’s even better after it’s sat in the fridge for a bit- if it makes it that long.

Arroz Con Pollo
12 boneless chicken thighs, with skin
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup shredded carrots
15 oz diced tomatoes with juice (or fresh tomatoes blanched, shinned and cored)
1/2 tsp gf hot sauce
1/2 cup white cooking wine
4 1/2 cups gf chicken stock
1 cup frozen baby peas
3 tbsp red bell peppers
20 oz Vigo Saffron Yellow Rice Dinner
salt & pepper

In a large skillet with lid, warm oil over medium high heat. Add the thighs skin down and cover. Turn the heat down to low and walk away. You must not lift the lid. You must not turn the thigh. Just walk away and let it cook down for around 20-40 minutes. The idea is not just to cook the chicken, but to coax it to release ever last bit of wonderful fat and broth that it will. So by the time you go back and check, you’ve got a nice inch or so of happy juices floating around the thighs. Remove them from heat, remove the lid, move the meat to a separate place and pour the juice off (use a strainer) into a measuring cup for later.

Take that lovely fatty skillet, scrape off any offending, sticky skin bits and add 2 tablespoons butter and turn your heat to medium. Add the garlic, bell peppers, onions and carrots and saute until tender. Pour the can of tomatoes over top including the juice. Add the peas, rice, cooking wine and hot sauce. Add enough chicken stock over the reserved thigh juice amount to equal 4 1/2 cups and add that to the skillet, too. Raise the heat to high until bubbly, then cover and reduce to low for 20-25 minutes (or until tender).

Meanwhile, discard the chicken skin from the thighs and shred the cooled meat off the bones. Once the rice is done, mix in the shredded thigh meat and serves. This serves six hungry men or 8 normal folk as a full meal.

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