Recently, a woman named Anita Soluna thought my cookbook would make a nice gift for her Peruvian friend, Martha Ochoa in Los Angeles. To her surprise, Martha encountered a photo of her godparents (my mother-in-law and father-in-law) on page 8. She has been searching for them for 40 years!
Overwhelmed with tears and emotion, Martha spoke at length with my husband about his parents and family, and was then able to speak Consuelo, her godmother, after so many years. Consuelo lives in La Molina with her son and is 92 years old.
Martha told me last night that, as she reads through my cookbook, the recipes take her back to Lince and she can smell and taste the flavors of Consuelo’s kitchen.
Consuelo’s version of arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) is made with her special salsa verde (green sauce) and is an easy, one pot, delicious meal.
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion, halved
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cups fresh spinach (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons salt, plus extra for sprinkling
Black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups water, divided (see Tips for Success)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 assorted pieces of chicken 2 cups long grain rice
1/2 cup frozen or chopped carrots
1/2 cup frozen or chopped corn
1/2 cup frozen or chopped peas
Combine garlic, onion, paprika, spinach, cilantro, 2 tsp. salt, pepper, and 1⁄2 cup water in blender. Blend on high until smooth. Measure the amount and set aside.
Sprinkle chicken pieces with a little salt. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and sear chicken, 3 pieces at a time, until skin is brown and crispy; be careful of the splattering oil! Remove and set aside. Drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon of grease.
Return pan to medium-high heat, and add contents of blender. Cook 2-3 minutes, scraping brown bits to deglaze pan and incorporate flavors. Add rice and stir well to coat. Add frozen vegetables and 2 cups water (see Tips for Suc- cess), stir. Place chicken pieces on top and pour in any ac- cumulated juices. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cover. Maintain simmer for about 30 minutes, or until water is ab- sorbed, rice is fluffy, and chicken is no longer pink.
Serve immediately on warm plates.
To get the right amount of water, first check your rice instructions to find out the ratio (I typically use long grain white rice with a 2:1 ratio). Measure the contents of liquid in the blender (it should be around 2 cups), and subtract this amount from the total amount of water needed for the rice. For example: when preparing rice with a 2:1 ratio, I would typically use 4 cups of water to 2 cups of rice; but in this recipe, I subtract the 2 cups of liquid in the blender from the total and only add 13⁄4-2 cups of water to pan. I also take into account that the chicken will be releasing juices.
This arroz con pollo recipe is included in Family Secrets: Experience the Flavors of Peru by Katie Choy. Proceeds from the book benefit the Peruvian American Medical Society, a non-profit agency providing much needed medical care to the underserved of Peru through permanent clinics and medical missions through the country. Family Secrets can be purchased here.
Cover photo: Larepublica.pe
This article has been updated from its original publication on May 18, 2016.
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