Chicken and rice (arroz con pollo) is a Latin American classic. This version is adapted from Anya von Bremzen’s new book, Paladares: Recipes Inspired by the Private Restaurants of Cuba. It makes a lot (10 servings) and is relatively high on the rice and vegetables and economical on the chicken. Since the chicken thighs were large, I halved them with a cleaver so that there were more pieces of chicken, although this also created some bone fragments I needed to remove. In this batch I actually used pineapple juice in the marinade (since I had an open jar in the refrigerator) rather than the 50/50 orange juice/lime juice mixture called for in the recipe.
For the chicken and marinade
3 lbs. bone in, skin on chicken thighs (cleaved in half if large)
½ cup sour orange juice (or 50/50 mixture of orange and lime juice)
1 Tbs. finely chopped or pressed garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
For the dish
¼ cup annatto oil (or olive oil and 1 Tbs. annatto seeds)
1 cup chopped onion
½ green pepper, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes
½ cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups medium grain rice (I used Japanese)
¼ tsp. saffron, crumbled
½ cup lager style beer
2 Tbs. capers in brine
10 oz. frozen peas
1 cup thinly sliced roasted red pepper
Combine the chicken and the marinade ingredients in a ziplock baggie. Store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and dry the pieces on paper towels.
If you have annatto oil, put it in a large Dutch oven. If you do not have it, make the annatto oil by combining ¼ cup of olive oil and 1 Tbs. of annatto seeds in a small saucepan, and cooking them over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Strain the oil into the large Dutch oven and discard the seeds.
Working in batches fry the chicken in the oil over medium high heat, first skin-side down and then flesh side down, until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes on a side. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate. Add the onion and peppers to the pot and saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a minute. Add the chopped tomato and the white wine, mix in and cook for about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups of the stock and the chicken to the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the rice and saffron, stir, and continue to cook until the liquid is almost all absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add 2 more cups of stock, stir, and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add the final 2 cups of stock and the beer, stir, and simmer another 5 minutes. (At this point the rice should be nearly fully cooked. If not, cook a little longer, adding more liquid if needed.) Add the capers, peas, and roasted peppers, and stir well. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Although it is not a Cuban thing to do, I think this benefits greatly with some SriRacha sauce at the table.