ARROZ CON POLLO – Rice with chicken, Catalan style

By Peter Hanley

ARROZ CON POLLO – Rice with chicken, Catalan style

Arroz con pollo, (arròs amb pollastre in Catalan) is common all over the Spanish speaking world, yet today I pay homage to a bastion of Catalan  rice cooking, the famous 7 Portes restaurant in Barcelona, whose cookbook I treasure and from which todays recipe is taken. Unlike the Paellas from Valencia, Catalan rice dishes place particular emphasis on the sofrito, or sofregit. This is the base of Catalan cooking. It’s simply a thick mixture of onions and tomatoes, patiently cooked down into a sort of mush. Bon profit! 

INGREDIENTS (for two people)
50 ml olive oil
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1/2 a red pepper, small dice
2 or 3 tomatoes, grated and skin discarded
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
a small handful of peas
a pinch of saffron or ‘colorante’ (orange food colouring)
200g rice
500 ml chicken stock

The Spanish are tremendously generous with olive oil when it comes to rice dishes, so in a good slug of  it, probably about 50ml if you’re measuring, fry the chicken pieces until golden and remove them. In this now flavourful oil, the sofregit / sofrito is made: The onions and peppers are sweated very gently for half an hour, at which point chopped garlic is added and cooked another 15 minutes. If at any point the onion starts to burn, it’s fine to add a drop of water and carry on. When the onions is really soft and almost mushy, the tomato is added and all this is gently sweated for another half an hour or to end up with something really thick and jammy.

The chicken is returned to the pan along with the peas. Turn up the heat somewhat and give it all a good stir around. Add the rice and keep stirring for a couple of minutes to coat it in oil and allow it to pick up all the flavours. Sprinkle over a little colorante which is  food colouring, so often used today in Spain instead of saffron. It adds no flavour though it does lend the rice its characteristic yellow colouring. If you do have saffron, just a pinch is enough.

Finally the boiling stock is poured over. Give the pan a stir to even everything out, but don’t be tempted to stir any more from here on in. Leave it at a gentle boil for 15 to 18 minutes. As it cooks, add salt, tasting the broth as you go. The rice is cooked when no longer hard though not at all mushy. The stock should have been absorbed. If the rice is still a little too moist, don’t be tempted to continue cooking as this will spell disaster for the rice. Let the rice rest for five minutes and serve.

This entry was posted in Rice SPAIN

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