A delicious skillet recipe for Puerto Rican chicken and rice or arroz con pollo, easy to make and so full of flavor.
Arroz con Pollo
Puerto Rican chicken and rice – an easy recipe that will amaze you with its unique flavors.
Chicken and rice seem to be a traditional dish in many parts of the world. I love the Romanian version of chicken and rice or pilaf that I grew up with, but I’ve also cooked and ate many other versions of this dish over the years.
Chicken and rice is a traditional dish in many countries of Central and South America. They all vary from region to region, but I suppose the main ingredients (like the chicken and the rice + some sauce) remain the same.
What sets the Puerto Rican chicken and rice apart?
I suppose it is the use of the typical Puerto Rican sofrito.
What is sofrito?
- Sofrito originates in Spain, actually for quite a while, I thought sofrito was only used in Spanish recipes. However, for a very long time, sofrito is also an essential part of the Hispanic cooking, very popular not only in Puerto Rican cuisine but also in Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
- Sofrito is a blend of vegetables, like onions, garlic, tomatoes peppers, cooked with herbs and spices. It is used to flavor rice, beans, stews, and many other dishes.
- To think about it, not only the Spanish or Hispanic cuisines use some kind of sofrito as the base of the dish. We build a similar (yet definitely less spicy) base in Romanian cooking, starting by cooking the onions, garlic, peppers, tomato paste and very often sweet paprika powder. Or in German cooking where Suppengrün (soup vegetables like onions, carrots, celeriac, and parsley) plays a similar role.
- The Puerto Rican sofrito uses the typical onions, garlic, tomatoes, red peppers and cilantro with the addition of the country-specific cubanelle peppers, ajices dulces and culantro. The fresh ingredients are finely chopped in a food processor and used to cook this chicken and rice recipes or to impart flavor to many other Puerto Rican dishes.
- If you don’t want to make your own sofrito, you can definitely use some from a jar.
- You can use chicken thighs, chicken thighs or a mixture of the two.
- Bone-in chicken is preferable for cooking this dish. The rather long cooking time, make boneless chicken parts rather dry.
You will also need white long-grain rice, green olives, capers, onion, and tomato sauce.
More rice and meat combinations?
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Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs chicken thighs or legs
- 450 g/ 1 lb/ 2 cups rice
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz/ 1/4 cup green olives
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ ½ cup Puerto Rican Sofrito
- 1 small white onion
- 350 g/ 12 oz/ 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 950 ml/ 32 fl.oz/ 4 cups water
- 75 g/ 2.6 oz/ ½ cup frozen peas
- fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat the oil in a large iron skillet or a Dutch oven over moderately high heat.
- Season the chicken thighs or legs with salt and pepper, and cook until all sides of the chicken turn brown about five minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- In the meantime, finely chop the onion and slice the olives.
- Reduce the heat and add the finely chopped onion. Cook for about three minutes or until it becomes soft and translucent.
- Add sofrito, capers, sliced olives and tomato sauce to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the washed and drained rice, chicken, and water to the pan. Increase the heat slightly and bring the water to a gentle boil. Cook without a lid on high heat until most of the stock has boiled off.
- Add the peas and stir the rice gently. Cover the pot very tightly, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking on low heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is done. Serve immediately.