All my life I’ve loved my Mom’s rice and beans. As most of you know, my mom is full Puerto Rican and so are my grandparents. When I was young, we basically lived off rice and beans. Don’t get me wrong, my mom made hundreds of recipes, but that was the one I remembered the most.
Years later, I discovered that cooking from your own heritage was a great way to tap into your roots, create nostalgia and remember those special moments with your family.
This particular Puerto Rican twist on arroz con pollo involves a few special twists:
HOMEMADE SOFRITO: We’re making the holy trinity of flavor here and the base for most Puerto Rican dishes: green bell pepper, cilantro (or culantro if you can find it!) and onion. Then you’ll add your tomato sauce and say hello to DELICIOUSNESS.
HOMEMADE SAZON SEASONING: Sazon is a really popular Puerto Rican spice. The downside of most sazon is that it contains MSG, so I’ve included a homemade sazon in this recipe. It flavors the rice SO much, you’re going to fall in love!
GREEN PIGEON PEAS OR REGULAR PEAS: Green pigeon peas are one of my favorite things. Unfortunately they are difficult to find. I use the Goya brand and have to purchase in the hispanic section (if they have it), head to our local hispanic store, or purchase off Amazon. Don’t worry though — if you want to use frozen peas instead that’s totally an option and usually what I do because I often have them on hand.
WHITE BASMATI RICE: This is our favorite kind to use because of how fluffy the rice gets. It shouldn’t be that difficult to find, but please don’t try and sub another rice. Or if you do, just know that cooking times differ. For instance, brown rice can take up to 45 minutes. It’s also usually stickier.
I love this recipe because everything is made in one pan, is easy to cook, surprises people with it’s unique, delicious flavor and is perfect for meal prep.
Now it’s important to remember that everyone’s version of Arroz con Pollo is different — that’s the great part about cooking is that you can really make it your own. This is our take on it, and one I know you’re going to love!
If you make this recipe be sure and tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram or leave a comment below and rate it so I can know how you liked it. Thanks for being here — have a lovely week! xo.
Mama's Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)
- For the chicken:
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- For the adobo seasoning:
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the sofrito & rice:
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup finely diced green pepper
- ¼ cup finely diced white onion
- ¼ cup finely diced cilantro
- Optional: 1 jalapeno, diced
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup basmati white rice (don’t use brown, it will take too long to cook)**
- ⅔ cup frozen peas (or rinsed and drained pigeon peas)
- OPTIONAL: ½ cup pitted green olives
Add chicken to a large bowl. Add in 1 tablespoon olive oil and your adobo seasoning: cumin, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Use clean hands to toss the chicken in the mixture. Cover and allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes, or you can skip this completely and begin the cooking process!
Next add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large deep 10 inch skillet and place over medium high heat. (If you do not have a skillet a large pot will also work very well!) Once oil is hot, add in chicken and season with a little more salt and pepper. Cook until browned 4-5 minutes, then flip and and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.
In the same skillet (it should be greased enough already for sauteing) you will make your sofrito by adding in garlic, jalapeno, diced green pepper, diced onion and cilantro.
Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add in your spices (also known as homemade sazon spices): cumin, turmeric, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Then add in tomato sauce and water and stir well to combine.
Bring to a simmer then fold in the rice and peas, making sure it is evenly distributed. Add browned chicken on top.
Reduce heat to low, cover the skillet immediately and cook for 20-25 minutes.
After 20-25 minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed and rice should be cooked. Serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
To meal prep: This meal serves four. Place rice in a meal prep containers and top with 1 chicken thigh. Garnish with cilantro.
Do not use brown rice. It takes a lot longer to cook and I would NOT recommend. Cauliflower rice works well in this recipe.
If you are looking for an alternative, I would recommend subbing about 2/3 cup quinoa. The cooking time and liquid ratio will stay the same.