Arroz Con Pollo: White Girl Does Cuban

You know how one ingredient or the memory of a meal can inspire an entire feast? Such was the case for this Cuban-inspired arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) with fried plantains. I say “Cuban-inspired” because I’m not gonna front: this isn’t authentic Cuban. I don’t even have enough experience with Cuban food to say what is authentic.

All I know about Cuban food comes from my days in the early 90’s working as a vocational counselor in Glendale. At our company, the mail clerk was a Cuban transplant from New York and her husband (Cuban also) was a fantastic cook. His dish was always the centerpiece of any potluck and one such potluck, he made arroz con pollo. I decided after eating twice my weight in chicken and rice, that if I had to survive on one meal, it would be Joe’s Arroz con Pollo. Of course, he wouldn’t give me his recipe.

Flash forward 20 years and a coworker of mine (Cuban) brought fried plantains for lunch one day. I remembered that arroz con pollo and vowed I would attempt to recreate it, complete with the fried plantains. On one of my bi-weekly trips to Trader Joe’s, I found this Spanish saffron and decided it would be perfect for the arroz.


For the chicken:
1 whole organic roasting chicken, cleaned and giblets removed
5 limes, 1/2 cut in half and the other half quartered
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
10 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
2 Tablespoons garlic, crushed

In a large bowl, squeeze lime juice all over chicken and rub into skin. Stuff the cavity with quartered limes and a few of garlic cloves. Under the skin, stuff more of the garlic cloves and rub the crushed garlic all over skin. Place the parsley and onions over top and squeeze more lime juice over the chicken before covering. Marinade overnight or 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 250 and place chicken in a turkey bag (sold by the foil) in its marinade. Seal the bag and cut a slit at the top for steam to escape. Bake in a 250 degree oven for two hours. Increase heat to 350 and bake another hour. Remove the bag immediately so it doesn’t stick to the skin and let chicken cool before carving.

For the rice:
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1/2 cup shredded carrots
14 oz. instant brown rice
2 pinches Spanish saffron
1 32 oz. package chicken stock
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup frozen organic peas

In a large stockpot, sauté the carrot in oil and garlic until tender. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the saffron and boil for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring back to a boil, until carrots are soft. Add the rice and peas and remove from heat. Cover and let stand 10-15 minutes.

For the plantains:
3 plantains, which look like green bananas
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons garlic oil

Peel and slice the plantains like you would a banana and coat with lime juice and garlic oil. I fried mine with more oil in a cast iron pan, but next time, I would roast them in a hot oven. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.




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Categories: Meals


Diligent seeker of health and nutrition, Paleo follower, and creative culinary practicer...


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