With Arroz con Pollo, you do the work in advance so guests can help themselves. It’s a great party and buffet dish. Photo courtesy Simon & Schuster.



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May 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Meat & Poultry

Recipe: Arroz Con Pollo

A Spanish Chicken And Rice Recipe With Sofrito


CAPSULE REPORT: This delicious and popular recipe is from the cookbook, Daisy: Morning, Noon And Night ~ Bringing Your Family Together With Everyday Latin Dishes, by Daisy Martinez. Read our review of the cookbook or purchase it online.



Arroz con Pollo is a chicken and rice dish mixed with vegetables and spices. It differs from many other chicken, rice and vegetable dishes in that the chicken is browned in achiote oil, and sofrito, a dense sauce, is added along with rice.

Sofrito (or soffritto) is a mixture of seasonings and finely chopped vegetables (bell peppers, cilantro, garlic, onions, tomatoes) sautéed in olive oil, that is used as a base for many Spanish, Caribbean, and Latin American dishes.

Prep time is 45 minutes followed by 30 minutes of cooking time. Yields six servings.


Arroz Con Pollo Recipe

This recipe is great for buffet-style serving. It would pair well with a salad heavy with tomatoes and a lemon vinaigrette—3 parts olive oil to one part fresh lemon juice—along with a cold beer.


  • ¼ cup achiote oil (recipe below)

  • 2 small (3-pound or slightly less) chickens, cut into 10 pieces each

  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup sofrito (recipe below)

  • ¼ cup alcaparrado (a mixture of olives, pimientos strips and capers,
    available from Goya Foods or make your own) or coarsely chopped,
    pimiento-stuffed olives

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Pinch of ground cloves

  • 4 cups long-grain white rice

  • 6 cups chicken broth

You can make alcaparrado or purchase it. Photo courtesy LatinMerchant.com.
  • 2 large bottled roasted red peppers, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1-1/2


  1. Heat the achiote oil in a paella pan or wide shallow pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until the oil is rippling.

  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add as many pieces to the pan, skin side down, as will fit without touching. Cook, turning as necessary, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

  3. Remove the pieces as they are done and set aside. Adjust the heat under the pan, especially after you start removing the chicken, so the chicken browns without the oil darkening. Add the remaining chicken, in batches if necessary, and brown as above.

  4. When all the chicken has been removed from the pan, add the sofrito and alcaparrado. Season lightly with salt and pepper, raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sofrito is sizzling.

  5. Stir in the cumin and cloves, then stir in the rice until it is coated with oil.

  6. Return the chicken to the pan, pour in enough broth to cover the rice by 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat until the level of liquid reaches the top of the rice. Stir gently and reduce the heat to low.

  7. Cover the pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed, the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender but firm, about 20 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork.

  8. The arroz con pollo can be brought to the table right in the pan or transferred to a large serving platter. Either way, garnish with the roasted red peppers before serving.


Achiote Oil

Makes about 1 cup  of oil. Cook time: 3-4 minutes.


  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons achiote seeds (annatto)


  1. Heat the oil and achiote seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until the seeds give off a lively, steady sizzle. Don’t overheat the mixture, or the seeds will turn black and the oil a nasty green.
  2. As soon as they’re sizzling away, pull the pan from the heat and let stand until the sizzling stops.
  3. Strain the oil. The oil can be stored for up to 5 days at room temperature in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Annatto are the seeds of the fruit of the achiote tree or “lipstick tree,” so called because of the red color the seeds produce. The most common use for annatto is as a food coloring. It provides the same color as saffron (but without the flavor of saffron), and can attain lighter or deeper colors, depending on the amount used. Photo courtesy LatinMerchant.com.


The sofrito can be made up to three days ahead of time if kept in the refrigerator, or longer if stored in the freezer. Just make sure to let it thaw completely before using in the Arroz con Pollo.


  • 2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks

  • 3 to 4 cubanelle or Italian frying peppers

  • 16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 large bunch of cilantro

  • 7 to 10 ajíes dulces*

  • 4 leaves of culantro**

  • 3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks

  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored seeded and cut into large chunks
Culantro—it’s not a misprint of “cilantro.” It’s available from JohnVenaProduce.com.


  1. Put the onions and peppers in the work bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time, processing until smooth.
  3. Continue with Step 4 of the arroz con pollo preparation, above.


*Ajíes dulces, sometimes called ajicitos, are tiny peppers similar in appearance to habaneros and Scotch bonnet peppers, but at the other end of the Scoville Scale—mild! They are sweet with a bright green, herbal flavor.

**Culantro is a leafy herb that smells and tastes like cilantro. Both ajíes dulces and culantro are available in Latin markets. If you cannot find them, simply leave them out and use 1-1/2 bunches of cilantro.

Yellow ajíes dulces (singular: ají dulce). Photo by Marcos Evangelista | Wikimedia.


Recipe © 2010 Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. All other material Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.

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