What Is Arroz Con Pollo?

By Aaron Ponce

  • Overview

    Arroz con pollo is a chicken and rice dish that has its roots in Spain and Latin America. There are many types of the arroz con pollo dish that vary by country, region and even family.
  • Definition

    Arroz con pollo, which literally means "rice with chicken," is a traditional dish that can be found throughout Latin America and in certain areas of Spain. In many Latin American countries, specifically in the Caribbean countries, arroz con pollo is considered a common homemade dish that is enjoyed quite frequently by people of all classes. This dish is distinguished by its comprehensive list of ingredients ranging from vegetables to chicken to its basic carbohydrate, rice. Because of the range of ingredients, arroz con pollo is considered an all-in-one meal.
  • Variations

    There may be as many arroz con pollo recipes as there are meatloaf or casserole recipes in American homemade cuisine. Many families in Latin America have their own arroz con pollo recipes which sometimes vary quite dramatically. Although the basic ingredients of rice, chicken and vegetables are usually found in any arroz con pollo recipe, the amount and types of spices differ from family to family. One of the main differences found between arroz con pollo recipes includes the way the dish is given its characteristic yellow color. For example, in some regions saffron is used to color the rice yellow. Alternatively, annatto oil is used to infuse the dish with a yellow color.

  • Versatility

    Arroz con pollo can also vary by the availability of ingredients. Because arroz con pollo is such a commonly made dish, oftentimes the person preparing it may elect to use whatever is in their cupboards at the time. Arroz con pollo can also be made according to what a person feels like adding to it at any moment. It is a relatively versatile dish that can be adjusted to the preparer's likings. Thus, arroz con pollo can be made differently even within the same family or region.
  • Ingredients

    There are 4 basic ingredients that can be found in virtually any arroz con pollo recipe. These ingredients include: rice, chicken, certain spices and the vegetables used to make the broth and to garnish the dish. The rice that is used in arroz con pollo varies from a short-grain variety, for example a Valencia style rice, to a medium- or long-grain white rice. People may also use different parts of the chicken for arroz con pollo. It is customary to use chicken thighs or breasts complete with skin and bones when cooking this recipe. The most common spices included in arroz con pollo are garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Cilantro or parsley can also be added. The amount and type of vegetables used can also differ among recipes. The most common vegetables used to make the broth are tomatoes and onions. Sweet red peppers and green peas are often added to garnish the dish.
  • Preparation

    Arroz con pollo is generally prepared in 3 stages. First, a broth is made using a combination of vegetables and spices. The broth is usually simmered with the chicken cooking slowly while it reduces a bit. Next, the rice is added and the whole combination of ingredients is simmered until finished. Finally, fresh green peas and chopped sweet peppers or other similar vegetables are added for garnish.
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