“Of all the combinations of rice and other ingredients found in Latin cooking, everyone’s favourite is arroz con pollo, rice and chicken. There is something deeply satisfying about this one pot meal, the golden rice bursting with flavour, the succulent chicken juices giving moisture and backbone to the rice. Everywhere in Latin America, this is the food that anchors Sunday lunch when extended families get together, and that is served to a special guest as a gesture of appreciation.” Maricel E Presilla, Gran Cocina Latina 2012. ISBN 978-0-393-05069-1 (hardcover).
I couldn’t say it any better. In my days as a student and in bedsit land this was a regular staple. Easy, cheap, makes a little go a long way and incredibly tasty. It is these things that also make it a great outdoor and campsite food too.
I’ve made life easy for myself and prepared as much as possible in advance. It does help. On this excursion I was getting some imagery for another project so I needed to be efficient. I could of course been even more efficient and opened a tin or used a freeze dry packet. But, well, one has one’s standards. I have nothing against those freeze-dried things. They have their place and I do use them. But generally I prefer not too. Even in a location as exposed as this one was!
There are many, many variations on how this thing comes together. You could sweat down the onion, garlic etc. first and then add chicken and chorizo. Fry the meat and then add the onion garlic etc. Or put everything in together at the same time. Trust me on this, however you choose to do it, it all works, although the subtle dimensions of flavour are quite different. In this case I’ve chosen to do the meat first and then add in the onion, garlic and bell pepper.
Having fried off the chicken and chorizo and softened down the onion etc. I then added a slug of plain water to kind of free everything up. Into this I added a packet of golden vegetable rice and got everything well mixed together. Then, into that mix, I added a tin of chopped tomatoes.
Then the easy bit. Sitting back and letting it cook down. How far you want to take this is a matter of personal taste and judgement. Some people like it very dry, some people like it quite soupy. Classically speaking, when it comes to reducing this down it should not be stirred. The idea being to reduce and steam the liquid through the rice mixture leaving a nice crunchy base to the bottom. Personally, I think a gentle loosening of the mix to move the reducing around a bit works very well. In this case I chose to leave the mixture quite wet. As 2/3rds of this is going into a food jar for later, I rekon a wet mix will keep better and re-heat better.
Oh wow! This is good. Next time your out camping or caravanning this is a really good one. For simple ease, simplicity and taste this is hard to beat. Especially if you are cooking for a group. You really can’t make too much as it is very re-heatable and makes a great breakfast for the next day! Whatever, if you’ve never done this you are really missing out. Give it a try.
Ps. Just in case anyone wants to know the location was on the north side of the Kirkstone pass in the English lake District.