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    Arroz con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice)

    Chicken and Rice!! Arroz con Pollo is comfort food at its finest, a one-pot wonder that never fails to please. No matter where you come from, simple chicken and rice knows just how to hit the spot.

    Now today’s Latin recipe is bursting with flavors that are both familiar and exotic. This dish has something for everyone.

    Braising pot full of Puerto Rican arroz con pollo.

    Chicken and Rice

    Every culture has some form of rice dish that is pretty iconic. From Biryani from South East Asia, to Paella and Spanish Chicken and Rice from Spain, Jambalaya from NoLa, and Jollof Rice from west Africa, are just a few examples.

    Close up of a bowl of chicken and rice.

    What is Arroz con Pollo?

    Arroz con Pollo is a classic dish from Latin American and Spanish cuisines. The name literally translates to “rice with chicken,” and that’s exactly what you get – a delicious, one-pot meal of tender chicken and flavorful rice.

    Its roots trace back to the Spanish dish paella, but over time, it’s been adapted by different Latin American countries, each adding its own flair. A Cuban household might add a splash of beer in the rice, or in Peru you might even find it tinged green due to cilantro-infused rice.

    Each region or household might have its own variation, but the essence remains the same where the chicken and rice are cooked together, allowing their flavors to meld beautifully.

    Today I am presenting you with a Puerto Rican version. It needs some special ingredients, and some tips and tricks. But once you master this easy recipe, the result is a flavor bomb.

    Zoomed in shot of the pot of rice with chicken.

    What Cut of Chicken is Best?

    Most people prefer using chicken thighs or drumsticks for their Arroz con Pollo, typically bone-in, skin-on cuts to maximize flavor and juiciness. These cuts hold up well during the cooking process and infuse the rice with a rich, savory taste.

    Some people prefer using a combination of thighs, drumsticks, and even wings for this chicken and rice recipe.

    Skin-on chicken can add richness and flavor, but it does add extra fat. If you’re looking for a lighter dish, you might choose skinless cuts.

    I don’t recommend chicken breasts for this recipe, as they tend to dry out with longer cooking time and wouldn’t be as juicy or tender as dark meat.

    Ingredient Notes

    • Chicken – Today we are using bone-in, skin on chicken thighs.
    • Sofrito – Many Puerto Rican dishes start with sofrito as base. It’s basically a quick blend of cilantro + culantro + onion + garlic + green peppers. You can check my Sofrito post for more details.
    • Chicken Bouillon – Gives instant flavor boost to the marinade.
    • Spices and Seasonings – Cumin, Sazon seasoning (cilantro y achiote), oregano, salt, pepper.
    • Lime Juice – Freshly squeezed.
    • Olive Oil – Used for both marinating and sautéing. You can also use any other light, neutral flavored oil.
    • Veggies – Onion and bell peppers.
    • Garlic – We love plenty of garlic.
    • Tomato Sauce – Adds a tangy richness to the pot.
    • Rice – Medium grain is most traditional.
    • Chicken Broth – Much better than just plain water.
    • Green Olives – Another must in Latin cuisine.
    • Frozen Peas – Another veggie boost.
    • Cilantro – For garnish.
    • Lime Wedges – To serve.

    Puerto Rican Arroz Con Pollo Recipe

    1. Marinate Chicken: Combine chicken with sofrito, bouillon, cumin, Sazon seasoning, oregano, lime juice, and olive oil. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours, or overnight for the best flavor.

    Chicken thighs marinating in a large bowl.

    2. Sear Chicken: Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot. Sear chicken on both sides for about 8-9 minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

    Seared chicken thighs on a plate.

    3: Sauté Veggies: In the same pot, sauté diced onions and bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, then stir in tomato sauce and reserved marinade.

    Veggies cooking in tomato sauce.

    4. Toast Rice: Add rice to the pot and toast for 2-3 minutes, mixing well with the sautéed ingredients.

    Uncooked rice stirred into vegetable mixture.

    5: Assemble & Cook: Add chicken broth, olives, and peas. Place chicken back in, skin-side up.

    Chicken added into the mixture.

    Cook uncovered until water bubbles, then cover and cook for 25-35 minutes or until rice is cooked. Time will vary depending on the type of rice or the bottom thickness of the pot. While it’s cooking, check out my collection of favorite Puerto Rican recipes.

    If you want crispy brown rice known as pegao, cook additional 4-5 minutes, making sure the rice is crispy brown at the bottom, but not burnt.

    6: Garnish & Serve: Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.

    Final product garnished with cilantro.

    What is Pegao?

    Pegao is that layer of crispy, golden-brown rice that forms at the bottom of the pot when you’re cooking dishes like Arroz con Pollo. The term “pegao” is derived from the Spanish word “pegar,” which means “to stick,” and it’s considered a culinary treasure in many cultures.

    This crunchy layer is rich in flavor, having absorbed all the wonderful seasonings and chicken juices during the cooking process.

    Achieving the perfect pegao involves a bit of finesse, you want it crispy and browned but not burnt. To get it, you may need to cook the dish a few minutes longer, carefully monitoring to make sure it doesn’t turn from a delicious crunch to a burnt layer.

    Angled shot of the bow of arroz.

    Alpana’s Tips and Tricks

    1. Use the Right Rice: Medium-grain rice is recommended for its ability to absorb flavors well while maintaining structure. Saying that, we have cooked this with basmati rice too, and it works wonderfully.

    2. Season Generously: Don’t skimp on the spices. The Sazon seasoning, cumin, and oregano are key to that distinct flavor.

    3. Marinate Longer: The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it becomes. Overnight is ideal, but a minimum of 2-4 hours will still do wonders.

    4. Rice-to-Chicken Broth Ratio: The rice-to-chicken broth ratio is a key element for perfect Arroz con Pollo, and the general guideline is a 1:1 ratio. However, this can vary based on the type of rice, the cooking vessel, and even the climate. Medium-grain rice is often used and retains moisture well, but long-grain like Basmati may require slightly less broth. If you’re using a heavy-bottomed pot, it may retain moisture better, allowing for less broth. Don’t forget to account for additional liquids like tomato sauce and marinade when measuring. Nailing this ratio ensures your rice will absorb all the delicious flavors without becoming mushy.

    5. Aim for the Pegao: For that delightful crispy bottom layer, you may need to cook the dish an additional 4-5 minutes after the rice is done. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.

    Variations

    • Cuban style Arroz con Pollo: Its close to Puerto Rican style, except they do not use sofrito in the beginning.
    • Colombian Style: Features other vegetables like carrots, corn and potato along, with a unique blend of spices.
    • Peruvian Style: Features aji amarillo, a Peruvian yellow pepper, and often uses beer in the broth for added depth.
    • Spanish style: Uses unique Spanish seasoning along with saffron.

    Leftovers and Storing

    Arroz con Pollo tastes even better the next day, as the flavors continue to meld. Place your fully cooled leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

    If you’re thinking longer-term, you can also freeze it. Just portion it out into freezer-safe containers or bags, and you’ve got a meal that can last up to 3 months.

    When it comes to reheating, the stovetop is your best bet. Add a splash of chicken broth or water, cover, and warm it up on low heat. This method revives the rice and chicken, keeping them moist and flavorful.

    Microwaving works too, but a sprinkle of water over the rice is a good idea to prevent it from drying out.

    Platter full of chicken and rice.

    Make this classic Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice the next time you are hunting great ethnic flavors and in the mood for home made comfort food.

    Check out our other Puerto Rican Recipes too for some amazing flavors. Its one of our favorite Latin cuisines for good reason.

    Arroz con Pollo, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of arroz con pollo atop the Gypsy Plate.

    More Great Puerto Rican dishes:
    Bistec Encebollado
    Asopao de Camarones
    Habichuelas Guisadas
    Arroz con Gandules
    Carne Guisada
    Sancocho
    Pernil
    Picadillo

    Featured image for arroz con pollo recipe post.

    Arroz con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice)

    Yield: 5 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 50 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour

    This Arroz con Pollo recipe is the ultimate Puerto Rican comfort food, where chicken and rice cook together with plenty of flavorful seasonings.

    Ingredients

    Chicken Marination

    • 5 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (you can also use boneless thighs and drumsticks)
    • ½ cup sofrito
    • 1 chicken bouillon packet (or crumbled cube)
    • 1 packet Sazon (culantro y achiote)
    • ½ tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil

    Arroz con Pollo

    • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
    • ½ yellow or Spanish onion, diced
    • ½ green bell pepper, diced
    • ½ red bell pepper, diced
    • ½ yellow bell pepper, diced
    • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • salt to taste
    • pepper to taste
    • ½ cup tomato sauce
    • 2 cups white rice (medium grain, long grain rice or basmati)
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 8-10 green olives (whole or sliced)
    • ⅔ cup frozen peas
    • cilantro, chopped for garnish
    • lime wedges, to serve

    Instructions

    1. Marinate the chicken with all marinade ingredients. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. (Overnight marination is best for flavors)
    2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium high heat and sear the chicken to golden brown for 8-9 minutes both sides. Plate it out. Do not discard the marinade.
    3. In the same pan, add more oil if needed and sauté diced onion and bell peppers for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato sauce and reserved marinade and cook for a couple of minutes.
    4. Add rice and mix well. Toast it for 2-3 minutes.
    5. Add chicken stock along with olives and peas, mix well. Place chicken thighs with skin side up back into the rice mixture. Cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes until the liquid starts bubbling.
    6. Cover and cook for 25-35 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Time will vary depending on the type of rice and the bottom thickness of the pot. If you want crispy brown pagao, cook an additional 4-5 minutes, making sure the rice is crispy brown at the bottom but not burnt.
    7. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

    Notes

    1. Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3-4 days in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat on stovetop, covered, with a little additional water over low heat

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 5 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 566Total Fat 44gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 33gCholesterol 35mgSodium 1082mgCarbohydrates 32gFiber 4gSugar 5gProtein 14g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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