Puerto Rican–Style Arroz con Pollo | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Milk Street Recipe

Puerto Rican–Style Arroz con Pollo

Appears in July-August 2021

Puerto Rican–Style Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice, is a much-loved dish in many Latin American countries. Pieces of chicken cooked directly in rice seasoned with aromatics and herbs, the grains soaking up the juices from the bird—it’s comfort food at its best. In his book “Cocina Tropical,” chef Jose Santaella includes the recipe for the arroz con pollo he serves at his restaurant, Santaella, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As with most versions of arroz con pollo, the flavor foundation is sofrito, a cooked mixture of aromatic vegetables, herbs, ham and capers, so you will need to make a batch of sofrito as the first step. Santaella cuts up a whole chicken, but for ease we use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. We do, however, cut each one in half so the chicken cooks on par with the rice. Medium-grain rice, starchier than long-grain but less so than short-grain, is the right type of rice to use here. Italian Arborio is a widely available option; Spanish Valencia and bomba rice, used for paella, work, too. A combination of chicken broth and beer is the cooking liquid; the beer’s hoppiness provides flavor balance and helps lighten the dish. Look for a quaffable pilsner, such as Corona Extra. Serve with fried sweet plantains.


Don’t use chicken breasts that are larger than 1 pound each as they will take too long to cook, even if cut in half. If the ones you purchase do happen to weigh more than 1 pound each, cut them into thirds rather than halves. And be sure to rinse and drain the rice before cooking. Rinsing removes excess starch so the grains don’t cook up thick and gluey.

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