Rice is believed to have been introduced to the "new world" around fifty years after the conquest. Today rice is found in various forms in traditional Mexican cuisine. Rice can be served as a dessert as in Arroz con Leche, or it is also served as a side dish, as in Mexican rice or Spanish rice, or in a combination entrée such as Arroz con Pollo.
In our family, Arroz con Pollo could be counted on to serve a large group quickly and economically. Here is the family recipe that stretches one chicken to serve eight.
One chicken cut into eight pieces
(reserve chicken back, neck, giblets, and wing tips for broth)
Two quarts of water
Two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Two medium bell peppers cut into large cubes
Four medium onions cut into large cubes
Four large tomatoes cut into large cubes
Two carrots finely diced
Four cups of long grain rice
One quarter cup of vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
One bay leaf
Saffron pestles, one pinch
One twelve ounce bottle of Corona beer
One eight ounce of canned tomato sauce
Four ounces of pimento stuffed Spanish green olives.
In a two quart pot make a stock (broth) from water, one onion, bay leaf, seasoned (salt and pepper to taste) chicken back, neck, giblets and wing tips. Simmer about twenty five minutes, allow liquid to reduce to six and one half cups liquid. Remove chicken, bay leaf and onion and set aside liquid.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown seasoned (salt and pepper to taste) chicken pieces in oil. Drain oil and sauté garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, and remaining onions, with chicken until vegetables are tender. Add Salt and pepper to taste. Add saffron. Be careful not to overcook, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add rice and stir into chicken and vegetable mixture until all the rice is moistened.
Combine broth, beer and tomato sauce and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the eight cups liquid over chicken, rice and vegetable mixture and stir. Simmer for ten minutes. Add drained olives and carrots. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Cover for twenty minutes or until rice is cooked, stirring only once to keep from sticking.
* This recipe is featured in the Old California Gazette vol. 14 July 2003