The weather is warm and the beer is cold.
Miami is a melting pot of cultures, the food, is a reflection of its diverse culinary traditions. I often think of how the food, growing up in Miami helped to create some of my basic beliefs about the world, and the profound influence a diverse food culture has had on my life.
A significant influence, was Cuban food. The distinct Cuban flavor and simplified style of cooking was influenced by both African and Spanish cultures.
A quintessential favorite Cuban dish is Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken). Although this dish makes its presence known in the Caribbean, and other Latin countries, its Cuba that this dish takes front center stage. Growing- up it seemed every family had their version of this dish. This one pot meal, often served with fried plantains was always served up family style. A style of serving food that continues to be my favorite way feeding family and friends.
An arroz con pollo starts with a basic sofrito of olive oil, onions, garlic, bell peppers, bay leaf, ground pepper, a blend of latin spices, and in this recipe, the addition of tomato sauce.
Note: Sofrito serves as a foundation for many Latin dishes including stews, sauces, beans, rices and other dishes.
The chicken pieces are then added to the sofrito
Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)
A whole chicken, cut up
1 small green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Bijol (Note: Bijol can be found at most Latin and ethnic food markets. You can use other brands such as Sazon).
3/4 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry white cooking wine
8-1/2 ounces canned small peas
10-1/2 ounces canned asparagus
2 cups rice
1/2 a bottle of beer
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 of a roasted red pepper (pimento)for garnish
1. Remove all skin from chicken. Rinse chicken and sprinkle with juice from lemon and orange.
2. Prepare a sofrito by combining green pepper, onion, garlic, bay leaf, ground pepper, bijol, tomato sauce, and olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat in a large pot for five minutes, stirring frequently. Lower heat and add chicken pieces, cooking chicken for approximately three minutes each side.
3. Add salt, cooking wine, juice from can of peas, juice from can of asparagus and 1-1/2 cups of water. Poach chicken over medium-high heat in a large pot (covered) for 30 minutes, or until tender. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside.
4. Add 2 cups rice to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover ( note: you may need to add additional water to the pot to cook the rice). Reduce heat and cook rice for approximately 30 minutes. When rice is nearly cooked, add 1/2 a bottle of beer to rice and stir well. Rice should remain moist.
5. Add chicken to the rice and simmer for five minutes. Correct salt to taste and serve, garnished with peas, asparagus and pimento.