It is custom in our culture that women are the ones in charge of cooking within the family unit. However, there are two specialties that my dad was always in charge of preparing. At least once Sunday every month, he would be in charge of making Parrillas at my grandparents’ house, and a different Sunday he would be in charge of making Arroz con Pollo at our house. He has been perfecting his Arroz con Pollo recipe all these years and still to this day, he makes it at least once a month for himself. Arroz con pollo, previously known as pollo en arroz (chicken in rice), is a main dish in which the rice leaves its usual spot as a side and becomes the main event. The rice absorbs all the flavors and colors of the chicken and other ingredients.
Recently my dad traveled to the US to visit, it was a big surprise for us because we had no idea he was coming. He stayed over for a month, and we begged him to make his famous arroz con pollo for us one day. I had been trying to recreate his arroz con pollo for years so I could include it on this blog, and I had no luck. From being unable to find the perfect rice, to not knowing the amount for each ingredient, to overcooking the rice and ending up with arroz-con-pollo pâté… finally, I was able to learn from the pro, how to make the perfect arroz con pollo. As my dad was cooking, we would remember all those Sundays he used to prepare it at home, and he would explain all the tips and tricks to make it perfect. He even said his arroz con pollo is like a Venezuelan Paella with chicken instead of seafood, for those of us who don’t like seafood (my dad is not a big fan of seafood, unlike my mom who eats almost everything from the sea). He also mentioned I would have to put this disclaimer out there: “this is merely ONE way of making Venezuelan Arroz con Pollo… my way”.
What you need:
– 2 Chicken Breasts
– 2 Medium Potatoes
– 2 Carrot Sticks
– 1 Bell Pepper
– 1 Large Onion
– 2 Chorizos
– 3 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
– 2 Cups of Yellow Rice
– 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
– ½ Tablespoon Garlic Powder
– ½ Tablespoon Adobo
– Salt to taste
– Pepper to taste
– 1 Small Can of Sweet Peas
– 1 Small Can of Whole Kernel Corn
– Parmesan Cheese to taste
– Limes (Lime Juice) to taste
– Olive Oil to taste
1. In a large enough pot (like a 3 Qt. Saucepan), bring about 1.5 to 2 Qt. water to a boil, on high temperature.
2. Add the 2 chicken breasts to the boiling water, and lower the temperature to medium.
3. Peel, wash, and cut the potatoes. Then add to the pot.
4. Peel, wash, and cut the carrots. Then add to the pot.
5. Wash and cut in small cubes ¾ of the bell pepper and add to the pot. Leave the other ¼ of the pepper cut in thin slices, and set aside (we will use it to garnish the plate afterward).
6. Chop the onion and add it to the pot.
7. Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 packet) to the pot.
8. Take the chorizo out of the freezer and slice it. It is better to cut it while it’s still frozen than when it has been thawed, since it will become a mess. Set aside.
9. Taste the chicken broth from the pot, and if needed, add another chicken bouillon cube (or half a packet). Set the temperature to high again and cook for another 15 minutes.
10. After everything has been cooking for about 45 minutes (since you first added the chicken breasts in the pot), take the chicken breasts out of the pot, cut them in small cubes, and then return it to the pot. Bring the temperature back to medium.
11. After 10 minutes. Drain all of the liquid out of the pot, keep all ingredients and also keep the broth in a separate container. We will use the broth later to cook the rice in it, so don’t throw it away.
12. In a large enough saucepan add a little bit of olive oil and turn up the heat to medium. Add all of the drained ingredients from the pot to the pan.
13. In the large pot you were using before, add a little bit of olive oil, add the 2 cups of Yellow Rice and sauté it a little bit. I have to say, my dad and I bought the Iberia brand of yellow rice and we were fooled. The package is transparent so you can see the rice, and the rice looks yellow because the package is yellow, not the rice. It says yellow rice because it brings that yellow powder in it which turns the rice yellow when you cook it, but the rice is not yellow straight from the package. There are other brands that have the yellow rice already pre-stained yellow, and you should get that one instead. I saw that the Conchita brand has a clear container, and you can see that the rice is already yellow.
14. In the meantime, sauté the other ingredients in the other pan.
15. Once you sauté the rice just a little bit, add 4 cups of the chicken broth to the rice. Cook as directed in the rice package. Usually, turn the heat to high, bring to a boil. Then, lower the temperature and cover.
16. Add the adobo, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the other ingredients in the other pan, then stir.
17. Add the chorizo to the ingredients in the pan, mix well.
18. Meanwhile, drain the cans of peas and corn.
19. Add all the ingredients from the pan to the pot with the rice. Stir thoroughly so that the rice mixes well with everything else.
20. Add the cans of peas and corn and mix well together.
21. Take the temperature to low and cover, then cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the rice is thoroughly cooked.
22. Serve hot with optional toppings: olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lime juice. Use the rest of the bell pepper to decorate.
Note: This recipe usually includes Venezuelan Ají Dulce, but we were unable to find any. Most recipes don’t add the corn, but I thought my dad’s addition of the corn was delicious.
This is another very special post, and I dedicate it to my dad
Alejandro R. Ojeda