How I love Colombian arroz con pollo and for so many reasons! That aroma of Colombian seasoning that can be smelled from any corner of your house. The vibrant color of the achiote (anatto) and the medley of vegetables is absolutely gorgeous, the picture alone says it all. And the flavor! That flavor! It has a little bit of everything, chicken, seasoned rice, all kinds of vegetables, sauce, it’s simply delicious. And the best part, it’s one of the most inexpensive dishes you can make that will feed an entire platoon. Which is the reason why arroz con pollo is one of the most popular meals that is served at a party where you can expect a lot of guests. A true Colombian has eaten this dish at the reception of a baptism, first communion, graduation and wedding.
And that’s why there is an enormous amount of different recipes for the famous arroz con pollo because it’s not only made in Colombia, but all throughout Latin America since in essence it’s the Creole version of the Spanish paella. In the US is very common to make it with chicken thighs and drumsticks that are cooked with the seasoned rice and served the same way. In Colombia we make it a little bit different because we mainly use chicken breasts that are shredded and seasoned well.
In recent years I have been making it in different ways, following different recipes and changing several ingredients. The recipe that I’m sharing with you today is the final version that I always make at home. The last touch was adding tomato sauce to the chicken for two reasons, one, to give it more flavor because I noticed that a lot of times the chicken was tasteless and too dry. And two, to add more color because an arroz con pollo with chicken breasts pieces that are white and pale is not very appetizing even if they’re bursting with flavor. But, I want to emphasize that adding the tomato sauce is completely optional, like I said earlier it’s just a little touch I added to the chicken to give it more color and flavor.
Cook the chicken in enough water at medium heat for 30-35 minutes. Once cooked, remove them from the pot and let them rest. Reserve the chicken stock to make the rice.
To make the rice, boil two cups of the chicken stock in a medium pot, add the rice, oil, Sazón Goya and salt. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork.
To cook the vegetables, boil enough water in a medium pot, add the carrots, green beans and salt. Cook on medium heat for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add the peas and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Once the chicken is cool and rested, shred it with two forks and set aside.
To make the sauce, put the tomato sauce in a medium bowl, add the cumin, garlic, onion and salt. Stir well and add the shredded chicken. Make sure the chicken is coated thoroughly with the sauce.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan at medium heat and add the bell peppers. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the salt and Sazón Goya and cook for another 3 minutes or until they’re softened. Add the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes or until the chicken is heated thoroughly.
To assemble the arroz con pollo, put the rice, cooked vegetables, chicken and peppers and chopped cilantro in a large serving dish. Stir well before serving.