~ Pantry Cooking: Chicken & Rice (Arroz con Pollo) ~
We woke up this morning with our day planned. Joe was to give all three poodles haircuts and baths. This might sound like fun, but, just like raising three kids, they all have distinct personalities. Haircut day is a day of switch-er-oo playing, depending on which one is voicing his or her complaint at the time. Joe has discovered that each pooch deals very well with each step of the process for about 15-20 minutes. After that, it's time to swap out that dog and move on to the next one for a while. Just as Joe was plugging his electric clippers into the wall, the phone rang. Joe's 88-year-old mother was complaining of chest pains. An ambulance was called and the day headed in a completely different direction. Thankfully, Ann is fine. The dog grooming will wait another day and I'm cooking a quick dinner for "Ma" out of my pantry tonight!
has a recipe for chicken and rice." ~ Melanie
The most famous, however, would probably be arroz con pollo, which is Spanish for "rice with chicken". It is a classic dish of Spain and Latin America and I love the concoction. It's homey, family-style, comfort food, and, It's not hard to make either. Even from scratch it can be made in a little more than an hour. Chicken is browned in a skillet. Rice, onions, garlic and bell peppers are added and cooked until the rice is light brown and the onion is softened. Stock, wine, tomatoes, salt and Spanish spices are added. The mixture simmers until the rice is fully-cooked. Depending on the cook and the country, sometimes other vegetables, like peas and carrots are added in the process. My real-deal recipe for arroz con pollo will be another blog post!
"Desperate times call for desperate measures:
but that doesn't mean it shouldn't taste great!" ~ Melanie
My kids grew up loving a yellow Spanish rice mix made by Vigo. Whenever I served it, they didn't need to be called twice to the table. I always added some red pepper flakes to the simmering rice and they affectionately named it "spicy rice." When it comes to the dish I'm making tonight, it is the ultimate time saver. It's got all the authentic spices right 'in the bag'!
Over the years I also started keeping two kinds of Goya seasonings in my pantry too: Sazon con azafran, and, Sazon con culantro y achiote. The first is a blend of garlic powder, cumin and Mexican saffron. The second is a mix of coriander and annato. How convenient is that!?!
I'm using chicken tenders today. Why? Because I happen to have a package in my refrigerator and they're going to cook up quickly without any fuss, mess or bother. They're also the inspiration for what I'm making for dinner tonight. Ma hasn't eaten all day, I promised her a hot meal the moment she arrives here, and, she loves rice!
Is a recipe like this blog-worthy? Yes indeed!
One of the things I've learned over the past couple of blogging years is not to rule out any recipe that tastes good and quickly feeds a person or a family under the stress of day-to-day life. I receive e-mails from foodies of all walks of life (college students, starving bachelors, single moms, etc.). While I'm not a proponent of cooking from bags, boxes and bottles every day of the week, I am not a food snob either. Every recipe has its time, and today, so it was, right here in my kitchen!
Grandma Ann's 30-Minute Ambulance-Chicken Recipe:
1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken stock
in a measuring container with enough water to total 5 cups. Add:
1 packet Sazon con azafran
Transfer to a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan. Add:
1 pound chicken tenders, 1 or 2 more or less won't matter
~ Step 3. Place 1-quart of water in a 4-quart stockpot and cook:
1 pound Vigo yellow rice
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
added to the water,
according to package directions.
Note: This task will take less than 5 minutes, so, if you let it go to the end of the rice cooking process, the chicken will be cool enough to use your fingertips. I like to use my hands to shred chicken!
1 14 1/2-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas*
Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for about 4-5 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes a bit with the side of a spoon.
* Substitute another frozen vegetable if you don't have peas. Corn or green beans work well too!
Note: At the very end, feel free to stir in 1/4 cup of minced cilantro. While I like cilantro a lot, my mother-in-law does not. A squirt of lime though, is a must! Pucker up:
Special Equipment List: 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; 4-quart stockpot w/lid; cutting board; paring knife; fork; large spoon
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)