Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is as classic Cuban as it gets. The aromas of arroz con pollo bring back memories of my abuela’s house and Sunday afternoons seasoned with fragrant saffron, sautéed sofrito, and sazon Goya. My mother typically makes fricase de pollo, a fancier  Cuban chicken dish served with white rice that is a staple in our house, but I had a recent craving for the homey goodness of this hearty Cuban dish.

A delicious arroz con pollo starts with short grain Valencia rice that is soft and starchy, and nicely browned chicken. I never enjoyed the appearance of arroz con pollo as a kid so I make sure to brown my chicken on all sides to develop more complex flavors and give the skin a beautiful golden brown color.

Arroz con pollo is a perfect Cuban recipe for these cold New York winter days and reminds me of weekends in Miami surrounded by family. I’ve never ordered arroz con pollo at a restaurant for me this is a dish best cooked at home enjoyed with family and friends.

Arroz con Pollo Recipe

  • 4 to 6 pieces chicken bone-in and skin-on (I prefer chicken thighs)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 red pepper diced
  • 1/2 green pepper diced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 package sazon Goya con azafran
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 can light beer (Becks, Heineken, Presidente, Budweiser)
  • 1 small can sweet peas (1 tablespoon reserved for garnish)
  • 1 can red pimientos sliced (one pimiento reserved for garnish)
  • 2 cups valencia rice, washed
  • 3 cups water or broth
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • lime garnish

Dice your sofrito of red and green pepper, onion, and garlic and set aside. Heat your pot with olive oil on medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on all sides and set aside on a plate. Add the green and red bell pepper and onion to the pot.

Once the onions become translucent and soft add the garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and add the tomato sauce and simmer. Season the sofrito with the cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and salon Goya con azafran. Add the chicken and top with jar of peas, sliced pimientos with liquid, bottle of beer, rice and water. Bring the arroz con pollo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes.

When your liquid is all absorbed the arroz con pollo is ready. Garnish with the reserved pimiento and peas and a wedge of lime.

*I made half of a recipe which is why I used only 3 chicken thighs for this dish.




Cuban Black Bean Shakshuka

Cuban inspired version of this one-skillet dish with black beans and sofrito. Shakshuka is a savory Israeli breakfast of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce with peppers and onions seasoned with cumin and paprika. Shakshuka is traditionally served with bread or pita on the side and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top. Cuban black bean shakshuka with goat cheese and cilantro is my take on the traditional dish.

The shakshuka black bean sauce came together easily in the skillet with red and green bell peppers, cumin, ground oregano, and plenty of spicy garlic. The aromas of sofrito are a classic Cuban cooking scent and the holy grail for most of our recipes. The scent quickly filled my small apartment and warmed up the cold winter morning.

I added extra tomato sauce to my black beans and vegetable stock to make them saucier than normal. Once the sauce simmered for 15 minutes I made little nests for the eggs and cracked them into the bubbling black beans before baking in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I topped my Cuban black bean shakshuka with globs of goat cheese and fresh cilantro with warm thick-sliced toast on the side. This black bean shakshuka is a great spin on the classic Mediterranean breakfast and perfect for brunch and entertaining.

Cuban Black Bean Shakshuka

  • 1 can low-sodium black beans
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper julienne
  • 1/2 green bell pepper julienne
  • 1 Spanish onion julienne
  • 3 cloves of garlic julienne
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt (easy on the salt since the Goya packet has sodium) and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
  • 1 packet Sazon Goya Sin Achiote (without Annatto)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4-5 eggs
  • Goat cheese crumbles for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Serve with warm, toasted Cuban bread, lime, and sliced avocado or sliced banana on the side.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Dice or julienne your onions, both bell peppers, and garlic for the sofrito. Add olive oil to a hot cast-iron skillet and sautee until translucent. Add the garlic. Next add the tomato sauce and let simmer and bubble for a few minutes on low to medium heat. Add the cumin, oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and sazon goya seasoning packet. Stir well and add the can of undrained black beans. Stir and add a half cup of vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water. Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.

Make little indentations in the sauce to crack the eggs into. Once you have cracked the eggs into the black bean sauce bake the Cuban black bean shakshuka in the oven until the eggs are set to your liking, about 7 to 10 minutes. I like my eggs to be on the runny side so I put then in the oven for 8 minutes. Enjoy this black bean shakshuka with warm toasty Cuban bread and sliced avocado or even some banana. This one-skillet dish can be made easily for brunch or with left over black beans. Enjoy!


Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Meyer lemon ricotta pancakes are fluffy and bright, velvety and custard-like. These light pancakes are much more moist and softer than your typical diner varietal. The ricotta cheese makes these pancakes over-the-top creamy and the Meyer lemon lightens up the rich ricotta.

I worked at a Manhattan restaurant with the most ludicrously delicious lemon ricotta pancakes with Greek yogurt whipped cream and fresh berries. These pancakes were seriously to die for – hands down the best I’ve ever had. I lament I never got the recipe for those delicious pancakes which inspired this attempt at breakfast glory. I didn’t make the Greek yogurt whipped cream because I enjoy these simply with maple syrup, but the tangy yogurt whip really pairs wonderfully with the sweet Meyer lemon ricotta pancakes.

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
  • Zest of one Meyer lemon

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. In a separate bowl mix the ricotta and eggs adding one at a time, ghee, Meyer lemon juice, Meyer lemon zest, and milk. Mix in the dry ingredients until smooth. Do not over mix.

Heat a pan over medium high heat with enough melted butter or ghee to coat the hot surface. Flip the pancakes when little bubbles appear a cross the top. Cook to a golden brown. Serve with warm maple syrup, fresh berries, and Greek yogurt whipped cream, if desired. Makes 12-14 three-inch pancakes.