Simple Chicken and Rice, Spanish Style

This is a ridiculously good and easy recipe, which I adapted from a recipe I found in a Weight Watcher’s cookbook. I make this at least once a month for dinner, and it is always so hearty and satisfying. The chicken breast is seared and then boiled in flavorful chicken broth, so it comes out nice and juicy, served alongside a pungent vegetable saffron rice. I don’t know much about Spanish cooking, and I am sure that this is not necessarily a traditional Arroz Con Pollo, but it is too good to care about some pesky authenticity.

I was actually inspired to make this after watching the Arroz con Pollo Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and me and my sister pranced around rolling our r’s saying “Arrrrrroz Con Pollo” for days. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and when I saw a recipe only a few days later, I knew I had to make some. (If you are looking for something more authentic, I think the above Throwdown link should do it for you).

I hope you find some time to make and enjoy this tasty and healthy chicken dinner.

Arroz con Pollo
Serves 4

4 skinless bone-in chicken breasts
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 red peppers, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup long grain basmati rice
heaping 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2-2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a large dutch oven, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add another 1 1/2 teaspoons (or more to your preference) of olive oil to the pan. Add the diced peppers and onions and saute for 5-7 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add in the rice, saffron threads, lemon zest, and oregano. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds to combine and toast the rice. Add the tomatoes and allow the juices to deglaze the pan.
Add 2 cups of chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, and stir.
Place the chicken breasts back into the pan, meaty side down and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and cover, cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through to a temperature of 160F and the rice is tender. If you need to, add additional chicken stock for the rice. (You should stir the mixture a few times during cooking so that the rice does not burn to the bottom of the pan and flip the chicken breasts once about halfway through cooking.)
Remove chicken from pan, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and season the rice with salt and pepper to taste.
Now, if you have actually seen the episode of Throwdown that I referred to earlier, than you may remember that Bobby Flay talks about having issues with gummy rice. I think he even cooked his rice separately from the chicken to avoid this. I have to say that I think the type of rice that you use here is key to getting a good final product. Normally, the white rice I use is the white basmati rice from the bulk section at Whole Foods. The aroma of this rice is really unbelievable and it always cooks up beautifully in this dish. I wish I had an air freshener that smelled like this rice…I guess I could make one though…but I digress. I do cook with brown rice, but I would not use this here, because it would not cook properly in tandem with the chicken. So my point is, use good rice and experiment with the different types available to you if you are not pleased with the initial outcome.

I also want to address the saffron in this recipe, which is so delicious and a huge part of the flavor in this dish. Don’t skimp on the saffron. I know that saffron is expensive, and hopefully you can find it for a reasonable price, because it is such a great spice.

Onions and peppers:

Here is the chicken, meaty side down:

How good does that rice look? It really is a meal in itself even without the chicken:

Eat up! We sure did 🙂