Arroz Con Pollo – Chicken with Rice

img_2654I have eaten many wonderful versions of paella in my lifetime – those that others have made and paella that I have made. It was a favorite dish from my mother’s repertoire. But sometimes I want something just as good but a bit simpler – no seafood and no sausage. I turn to Arroz Con Pollo or Chicken with Rice. This is a dish that can easily be made for a weeknight dinner and the only exotic ingredient is saffron. Most everything else you would have in your pantry or could easily pick up at most grocery stores or a good bodega. When you think you have just about had as much chicken as you can stand, give this wonderful dish a try. To turn any weeknight special, serve this with a hearty Spanish red wine. It just might renew your love for that old clucker!

Arroz Con Pollo

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, bone-in but skin removed (This is easily accomplished using paper towels to grab off the skin in one good pull.)

4 to 5 chicken drumsticks, skin removed

About 3 to 4 Tablespoons of EVOO

1 Spanish onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 large Cubanelle pepper cut into large dice (If you cannot find this dark pepper you can use a banana pepper)

8 to 10 large green olives stuffed with pimento

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Kosher Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup long-grain white rice

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

About 2.5 cups of chicken broth or water

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 roasted red pepper from a jar, rinsed and thinly sliced into strips

Directions

  1. In a large heavy skillet with straight sides and a tight-fitting lid (I like my cast iron Lodge pan) that will hold all of the chicken pieces in one layer, heat the EVOO until it just begins to ripple but not smoke.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the chicken pieces and brown them in the oil on all sides (about 8 minutes). Remove the chicken to a platter and keep nearby.
  3. Add the chopped Cubanelle pepper and the onion to the pan, adding more oil if necessary, stirring to soften. Add the cumin and cloves and the olives and some additional salt. (Remember that the olives have salt so go easy.) Once everything has begun to soften and the spices are giving off a lovely aroma, add the rice, tomato paste and the crumbled saffron, mixing well. You want all of the grains of rice to be coated with the oil and seasonings.img_2650img_2651
  4. Pour in enough liquid (stock or water) to cover the rice by a couple of inches. Add 1/2 of the chopped cilantro and mix through. Bring everything to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling rapidly, add back the chicken pieces, coating them in the liquid which has taken on the color of saffron. Cover the pan tightly and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and then gently stir through the defrosted peas and garnish with the strips of red pepper. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes with the heat turned off. This will be enough to heat through the peas and red pepper without over-cooking them. Garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro. img_2652

Lentil Soup

bowl of lentil soup

On Friday it was raining. On Saturday it was snowing. Today it is 18 degrees F. What’s a girl to do? I made lentil soup, of course! This simple, thick and warming soup is just right and is a one pot meal when you add some crisp bread on the side. I made a big enough pot to give some to my sister and mother and to have for lunch during the week.

Lisa’s Lentil Soup

Yield: 8-10 portions

Ingredients

3 cups green lentils, rinsed

3 Tablespoons EVOO, Grapeseed or Canola oil

4 cups stock/broth (I used chicken but you could use vegetable or beef if you prefer)

6-8 cups of water

28 ounce can or 26.4 ounce box of diced tomatoes with their liquid (preferably San Marzano)

1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch rounds

1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch rounds

1 large turnip, peeled and cut in large dice

1 large red potato or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut in large dice

2 stalks of celery, cut in 1/2 inch slices

2 pieces of lemon zest cut into 3 inch strips (I use a vegetable peeler for this and remove any of the white pith with a sharp knife)

juice of one lemon

Kosher Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Sausage of choice (I used a chicken andouille sausage, but a good garlicky sausage would also work. You can leave the sausage out if you want to keep this vegetarian, but I like to add it.)

Directions

  1. In a 6 quart stock pot with a lid, add the oil and heat on medium. Add the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the other vegetables and saute for 3-5 more minutes.
  3. Add the lentil, tomatoes, stock and lemon zest. Add 6 cups of water and 1.5 teapoons of Kosher salt. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Once it has come to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover tightly. Cook for 1 hour.
  4. After 1 hour check the pot and add the remaining 2 cups of water and the lemon juice. If you are adding the sausage, add it now. Most sausage is precooked or smoked. If it isn’t, brown the pieces first in a pan with a very small amount of oil. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes more. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy! bowl of lentil soup2

 

Osso Bucco

osso_buco_2_25_sharpen4

With Matthew and Frances now back home, I have time to write up some of the things I made for their visit. For Shabbat, I made an Osso Bucco served over polenta. Traditionally it is served with Risotto Milanese, but I’m partial to polenta and not bound by tradition. You will need to find good veal shanks with lots of delicious marrow for this. The preparation is not very difficult, and it does make for a lovely presentation and a very satisfying meal. If there is any left-over sauce, you can always use it up with pasta or to enrich the sauce I made for another meal that I will post later in the week. I wish I could say that veal shanks were an inexpensive cut of meat, but unfortunately they are not. That could be why I save them for a special occasion like Matthew and Frances’ visit.

Osso Bucco

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 veal shanks, each weighing about 10 ounces

flour (about 1/3 of a cup), generously seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and dried thyme for dredging

3 Tablespoons EVOO

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds about 1/4 inch thick

2 stalks of celery, sliced

2 bay leaves (dried or fresh)

2/3 cup dry white wine

28 ounces whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes and their liquid

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

For the Gremolata

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed

Zest from one large lemon

1/4 cup of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. Put the flour and seasoning in a heavy-duty plastic bag and add the veal shanks. Closing the bag, shake the veal shanks to coat with seasoned flour. Carefully remove the shanks, one at a time and shake off any excess flour.
  2. In a heavy-duty Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and brown the meat quickly on high heat to seal the juices. Don’t worry about bits of flour that may stick. When the meat is browned, transfer it to a plate and hold to the side.  veal shanks with marrow
  3. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaves to the pan and lower the heat. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and bring to a boil, allowing the liquid to reduce by half and burning off the alcohol. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and mix through. They will add flavor and depth to the sauce.
  5. Add the tomatoes, their juice, the tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and replace the meat in a single layer in the pan. Cover the Dutch oven tightly and simmer gently for 1.5 hours or until the meat is very tender but still on the bone.
  6. In the meantime, mix the ingredients of the Gremolata together and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  7. Carefully lift out the meat and keep on a plate that is covered with foil. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables, eaving some texture. Check your seasoning, adding a bit more thyme, Kosher salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve the shanks on a bed of risotto or polenta, with plenty of sauce. Top with some Gremolata. I like lots! Any leftover Gremolata is wonderful with eggs.