Mmmm Arroz con Pollo. That delectable dish where the flavours of Saffron yellow rice, ham, sweet roasted red peppers, salty olives, and crisp peas combine with succulent chicken. It’s comforting and adventurous at the same time. A real “company” dish as the colours are so vibrant and the presentation so impressive – and yet, it’s basically a one-pot meal that couldn’t be easier to prepare!
One thing that surprised me when I moved to Switzerland was how certain products that I’d always treated as cost-prohibitive, were actually reasonably priced here. It certainly made me less afraid to use them and experiment with them! Saffron is considered the world’s most expensive spice. Yet you can buy ground saffron (Safran) for less than 5.-chf, and the whole threads for only a couple francs more. And since this dish really only needs a small amount, it lasts a long time if you store it properly. You may be interested to know that (some) saffron is actually grown in Switzerland! There is a town that is completely dedicated to it. Mund, Switzerland. Mund is located in the Valais, near to Brig/Glis/Naters in the wild romantic valley of the Gredetschtal in the middle of the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The local restaurants feature saffron specialties, and you can even tour the only saffon museum in middle Europe. Of course the harvest in Mund is only tiny, and nothing like the massive growing regions of Spain and the middle east. But if you are passing through Valais, perhaps give it a look! The plants will be in bloom and most visible in October.
Getting back to our wonderful Spanish inspired dish! Some tips on buying chicken for this dish: This is one of the recipes I often keep in mind when chicken legs, thighs, or drumsticks go on sale or are marked down at the end of the day/week. I will often buy organic chicken at 50% off and either use it straight away or freeze it in freezer bags for another day. Chicken is very expensive in Switzerland, which can be hard for Expats to get used to as it is plentiful and cheap ‘back home’. I always prefer to buy organic, which can sometimes mean waiting a couple weeks before the prices are what I prefer to pay. (I’m writing a whole post of when/where/what I buy when it comes to meat!) So my best advice is to have a few recipes up your sleeve for when you spot a bargain, that way you’ll know what other ingredients you need to fill in the blanks!
ARROZ CON POLLO
600-700g bone-in Chicken (I use entire chicken legs (2-4 pieces) (Pouletschenkel), or 6 drumsticks (Pouletunterschenkel) or 6 thighs (Pouletoberschenkel) Boneless chicken breasts are not recommended for this dish
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
4 pieces or about 1/2 cup chopped ham or prosciutto (Rohschinken)
2 cups medium or long grain white rice
1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 tablespoon paprika
1 teasoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups chicken stock (boullion)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (loosely packed) or ground saffron, soaked/dissolved in a few tablespoons of very hot/boiling water
1 cup frozen peas (unthawed)
1/3 cup roasted red peppers cut into long pieces (see cook’s note, below)
1/4 cup chopped pitted brine-cured green olives
Season the chicken parts with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a wide heavy pan that is large enough to hold the chicken pieces in a single layer. Brown the chicken well on all sides, 7-10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat. Reduce the heat to medium low and and add the onions, and cook until just soft and add the ham. Cook the ham until slightly crispy and the onions are translucent (but not brown). Add the rice and stir until the rice is starting to turn golden. Add the minced garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir for 1 minute and then add the chicken stock, oregano, and dissolved/soaked saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to get any brown bits, then nestle the chicken pieces in the rice along with any juices from the plate. Cover the pan tightly and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in the peas, red peppers, and olives. Cover and continue to cook another 10-15 minutes, until the rice is tender and chicken is cooked through.
To make roasted red peppers: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Wash the peppers and then cut them in half lengthwise. Cut off the stems, remove the seeds and the white membranes. Place the peppers cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with foil. Roast the peppers in the pre-heated oven for around 25 minutes; until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, rotating the sheet if necessary for them to cook evenly. Let the peppers cool for a minute or two, and then remove them from the baking sheet and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl with foil or a plate, and let cool for about 30 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard them, dropping the peppers back into the bowl. Enjoy!! Leave me a comment if you liked it!