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17 April 2019

This Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe is made with a sofrito base. It is loaded with flavor and can be served as either a side dish or the main course.

Arroz con Pollo, my friends! Today we’re cooking up a one-pot meal that is total comfort food. Many countries have their version of “arroz con pollo“, which is “chicken and rice”. This Puerto Rican version is flavored with a base of sofrito, which is a mixture of peppers, onions, garlic and herbs, a staple in the area’s cuisine.

What’s not to love? It’s done in under an hour, making it an easy weeknight meal for the entire family that even the kids will love.

Let’s talk about how we make it, shall we? It’s one of the best chicken and rice dishes around.

Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo in a pan, ready to serve

Ingredients Needed for Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo

  • FOR THE ARROZ CON POLLO (chicken and rice)
  • 1 pound chicken breast, chopped (or use chicken thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Sazón
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (or use a jalapeno, serrano, or scotch bonnet pepper for extra heat, though this is not traditional – for heat lovers only!)
  • 1 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 cup sofrito (See my homemade sofrito recipe)
  • 2 cups white medium-grain rice, rinsed (long grain is good, too)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • FOR THE SOFRITO
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 4-5 ahi dulce peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 cup loosely packed)
  • 2 culantro leaves, chopped (replace with extra cilantro if you can’t find it)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil

About the Chicken

I usually make this version of the recipe with chopped boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs. It makes it easier to cook and the chicken can be stirred evenly though the entire dish. I prefer when I can have a bit of chicken and rice in every bite.

However, you can make it with bone-in chicken. Use a whole chicken, separated, or choose chicken legs or bone-in chicken thighs. If you use bone-in chicken, season and sear the pieces first before finishing them off to cook in the simmering rice.

About the Rice

Medium or long grain rice is preferred for this recipe. You can make it with other rice, but short grain may break down too quickly, making the dish more gloopy and sticky.

About the Sofrito

Sofrito is a sauce used as a base for building flavor into numerous dishes ranging from soups to stews to pots of rice. It is common in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Puerto Rico, Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, where it goes by different names, such as “sofregit”, “estrugido” or “refogado”.

It is comparable to the French mirepoix or Cajun Holy Trinity in terms of building and layering flavor into many dishes, including many Puerto Rican dishes.

Processing sofrito in a food processor

As with any widely used recipe, you’ll find variations from region to region, but the concept remains the same. Sofrito is a mixture of aromatic ingredients, either chopped or pureed, used to add flavor to different foods.

In Puerto Rican sofrito, it is made with bell peppers, aji dulce peppers, onion, garlic and culantro. There, sofrito is called “recaito”. Aji dulces (sweet peppers) may be difficult to find, so instead use Cubanelle peppers or some other sweeter pepper.

Learn more about sofrito, along with a homemade sofrito recipe.

How to Make Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo – Recipe Steps

First, make the sofrito by adding the green peppers, cubanelle, aji peppers (if using), onion, garlic, cilantro, culantro, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper to a food processor.

Process the mixture until it is fairly smooth. You can leave it chunky if you’d like. This is your flavor base.

Store the remainder in the refrigerator and use as needed or freeze in small batches. Makes 3-4 cups. Keep 1 cup here for the recipe.

Next, season the chicken in a bowl with the paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan to medium high heat. Cook the onion and peppers down for 5 minutes to soften.

Add the olives and sofrito and cook another minute, stirring.

Cooking down the vegetables and sofrito for arroz con pollo

Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.

Cooking the marinated chicken

Add the rice and stir until it is evenly coated with oil. Cook for 3 minutes to lightly toast it.

Add the tomato puree and chicken stock. Stir. Tomato paste or tomato sauce are good substitutes.

Broth added to our arroz con pollo

Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is cooked to your liking. Your cooking times can vary, depending on a number of factors. Just make sure the rice is fluffy and cooked through enough to your liking.

Garnish and serve it up! I like to toss in some extra olives at this stage.

Garnishing the Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo

The rice should be nice and fluffy, not overly sticky.

Crispy Rice, or “Pegao”

Sometimes you can make Puerto Rican arroz con pollo with the wonderful crispy rice that crunches up at the bottom of the pan, called “pegao”. It is very similar to the sacarat achieved when making Spanish paella.

It is cherished by some. To achieve the crunchy rice, add in a bit more oil to the pan before adding in the chicken stock and tomato paste. Let the rice cook another 5-10 minutes in the oil. It will crisp up on the bottom of the pan, but be careful! You don’t want it to burn.

That’s it, my friends! Puerto Rican chicken and rice. Quite easy to make, and as mentioned, quite HUGE on flavor. I hope you enjoy it!

Try Some of My Other Popular Rice Dishes

Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo in a pan, ready to serve

If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

 

5 from 2 votes
Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo Recipe
Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 
This Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe is made with a sofrito base. It is loaded with flavor and can be served as either a side dish or the main course.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Spanish
Keyword: chicken, Puerto Rican, recipe, rice, spicy
Servings: 8
Calories: 383 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
Ingredients
FOR THE ARROZ CON POLLO
  • 1 pound chicken breast chopped (or use chicken thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Sazón
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 cup sofrito
  • 2 cups white medium-grain rice rinsed (long grain is good, too)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 ounces tomato paste (or use 1 cup tomato sauce, if desired)
FOR THE SOFRITO
  • 2 green bell peppers seeded and chopped
  • 2 cubanelle peppers seeded and chopped
  • 4-5 aji dulce peppers seeded and chopped
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves about 1 cup loosely packed
  • 2 culantro leaves chopped (replace with extra cilantro if you can’t find it)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
Instructions
FOR THE SOFRITO
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor. Process until you reach the consistency you prefer. Either chunky or very smooth. Taste and adjust for salt.
  2. Store the remainder in the refrigerator and use as needed or freeze in small batches. Makes 3-4 cups. You only need 1 cup for the recipe.

FOR THE PUERTO RICAN ARROZ CON POLLO
  1. Season the chicken in a bowl with the paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric (1 tsp, optional ingredient), garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper. Set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in a large pan to medium high heat. Cook the onion and peppers down for 5 minutes to soften.

  3. Add the olives and sofrito and cook another minute, stirring.
  4. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add the rice and stir until it is evenly coated with oil. Cook for 3 minutes to lightly toast it.
  6. Add the tomato puree and chicken stock. Stir.
  7. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is cooked to your liking.
  8. Serve.
Nutrition Facts
Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 383 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 20%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 36mg 12%
Sodium 391mg 16%
Potassium 504mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 47g 16%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 3g
Protein 18g 36%
Vitamin A 14.6%
Vitamin C 51.5%
Calcium 5.4%
Iron 8.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) - This Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe is made with a sofrito base. It is loaded with flavor and can be served as either a side dish or the main course. #PuertoRicanFood #ChickenandRice #Dinner

8 comments

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Leon, yes, you can cover the rice with a lid and simmer it until you reach the consistency you prefer. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  1. I am making this tonight! How much turmeric do you suggest? It is listed in instructions, but no in the ingredients
    Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Marnie! I hope you enjoy it. Turmeric is an optional ingredient. If using it, just use a teaspoon or so. It isn’t traditional, but the flavor is a nice addition. Let me know how it turns out for you.

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