After many a visit to a local restaurant that specializes in tropical and amazing Latin dishes, I decided to make my own version of Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice. This beautifully seasoned chicken bastes the rice it cooks in with it’s rendered fat and juices to make the rice even more flavorful after getting treated with a variety of flavor weapons. It’s a one pan wonder!
Probably better known as Arroz con Pollo, this hearty meal can easily feed a crowd, or cut the recipe in half for four with leftovers. You’re going to really enjoy this flavorful, savory chicken and fluffy rice that’s not over spiced, yet so delicious.
When one thinks of Puerto Rican food spicy might come to mind, but it is flavorful, not over loaded with spices. It’s comfort food where a slow braise or bake in the oven results in fall apart tender meats and typically a side dish all made in one pan. Can’t beat that, right? Especially on those hectic mid-weeks when dinner is needed on the table quickly.
This Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice recipe is a go to for a savory dish without the typical south of the border ingredients. This is from Puerto Rico and the flavors are definitely different. In this dish, as with other Latin dishes, olives are thrown in the mix. I love the acidic touch from the brine they give the rice, mixing well with the other flavors. Reminiscent of olives found in empanadas, or like in this Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Olives and Preserved Lemon dish.
A fantastic boost in flavor starts with what’s known as a sofrito. Used in many Latin and Caribbean cooking, it typically consists of red and green bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, onions, cilantro that are blended and cooked as the base.
I pick up a brand I love called Goya that can be found in most markets or on Amazon if unavailable near you. Feel free to make your own from scratch, too. If I don’t have a jar on hand in the pantry, I purée in my food processor one each medium tomato, green and red bell pepper, one small jalapeño (or chile of preference), 4 garlic cloves and a handful of cilantro. That’s all there is to it!
Chicken drumsticks are customary parts in this dish, but Dave has an affinity for white meat so I add some bone in chicken breasts, too. A heavy rub of Adobo seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic and turmeric) all over and a quick pan sear on all sides for 2-3 minutes takes care of the chicken. The sofrito sauce gets a quick sauté, scraping up the bits from browning the chicken and then the rice and other ingredients are added. Dave had a crowd coming over that night and I was headed out so I poured all of this in a large roasting pan and added the chicken pieces back in to bake uncovered. This Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice feeds a crowd!
The result is this amazingly tasty, fall off the bone chicken, a savory, fluffy rice that has olives, capers and peas laced throughout. Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice at it’s finest!
As the chicken roasts in the oven it bastes the rice with it’s rendered fat and juices, making one flavorful rice. Enjoy!
Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3-4 lbs chicken legs, thighs and or bone in breasts
- 2 tbsp Adobo seasoning
- Freshly ground pepper
- 12 oz Puerto Rican Sofrito (See Note 1)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 3 cups (long grain) white rice
- 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 15.5 oz can Pigeon Peas, rinsed and drained (See Note 2)
- 1 cup green olives drained
- 3 tbsp capers drained
- If making 10 person serving preheat oven to 350°F. If making stove top (for 5 person serving), disregard oven instructions.
- Rinse the chicken pieces under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub both sides with generous amount of the Adobo seasoning. Rinse the rice under cold water and drain. Set aside.
- Over medium high heat add the oil to a roasting pan, skillet or Dutch oven and quickly brown chicken pieces for about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan, season with pepper and set aside.
- Add the sofrito and cumin to the pan for a quick sauté, scraping up the bits from browning the chicken and then add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for a minute, stirring to blend all.
- At this point top with chicken pieces, gently pressing down into rice mixture. Turn heat to low, cover with foil, then simmer for 20 minutes. (See Note 3)
- Remove foil then simmer for a further 15 minutes.
- When done, let stand for 5 minutes. Remove chicken and fluff up rice and then place chicken back on top. Serve from pan and top with chopped parsley (optional).
- I pick up a brand I love called Goya that can be found in most markets or on Amazon if unavailable near you. Feel free to make your own from scratch, too. If I don't have a jar on hand in the pantry, I purée in my food processor one each medium tomato, green and red bell pepper, one small jalapeño (optional, I like a little kick), 4 garlic cloves and a handful of cilantro. That's all there is to it!
- Feel free to substitute 2 cups frozen peas if you like for the traditional Pigeon Peas. I again use the Goya brand that can be found in most markets or on Amazon if unavailable near you.
- If this batch is too large for your skillet or Dutch oven (10 person serving), pour rice mixture into a large roasting pan coated with cooking spray and top with chicken pieces. Cover with foil, then bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil then bake for a further 15 minutes.