Well, I’m back at work, dreaming of days off past. And really, I figure the best way to revisit that is to revisit the food. That’s what I do! That’s what I live for!
Christmas at the house was a pretty low key affair and even though the food was easy to throw together and didn’t require hours in the oven, it was so full of flavor I cannot even.
Our plans weren’t set and made until Tuesday evening when after a lot of back and forth, mom and I executively decided that we’d cook. One dish suggestion led to another and before we knew it, we’d compiled a very thorough menu, one with a very Latin American/Spanish twist:
Appetizer I: Roasted shrimp and calamari
Appetizer II: Baked goat cheese in tomato sauce with crusty bread
Salad: Wilted greens with caramelized onions, bacon and manchego, dressed with an easy orange hinted vinaigrette.
Main: Arroz con pollo
Dessert: Amaretto creme brûlée
Since we staycationed downtown Tuesday-Thursday, it was necessary to shop straight away to make sure we had everything. Since it appears that I have no raw ingredients in my house these days except for spices, condiments, jam and 10 pounds of Babybel cheese (which I won in a random drawing) , we needed everything, and for a party of 4, we spent around $120. Not too shabby for a holiday spread.
For today, let’s focus on the star of the dinner show, the arroz con pollo, the one dish that decided the rest. Mom secured this family recipe from a fellow mom of one of my elementary school friends back in the low 80’s when we lived in Miami, so you can trust it’s authenticity. And deliciousness.
With one pot to dirty and a little over an hour to make, it left us plenty of family time which, I can proudly say, I thoroughly enjoy.
I know it’s resolution season. I get it, and boneless skinless chicken breasts are all the rage, but please don’t succumb to the pressure. Please don’t! One perfectly juicy chicken thigh is more gratifying than 50 dry chicken breasts.
Don’t like olives or capers? Trust the method. They mellow out nicely and in no way overpower anything. Trust!
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
- 2 links fresh chorizo, sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley stems, chopped
- 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 button mushrooms, chopped
- 1/4 tsp saffron + 1/4 cup water
- 3 3/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup frozen but thawed peas
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 TB capers
- 1/2 cup mixed Spanish olives
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 2 TB olive oil
- lemon, to serve (optional)
- In a large, deep sauté pan (or paella pan, actually), add the olive oil. Brown the chorizo slices. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Back to the pan, add the chicken pieces and brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
- Back to the pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the green pepper and celery and cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken and sausage back to the pan and cook, covered, until the chicken is about 1/3 of the way cooked, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the saffron to the water and microwave about 30 seconds to let it bloom. Add that to the chicken.
- Add the capers, tomatoes and mushrooms and sprinkle the rice on top of everything. Add the stock, a little at a time, until the rice is al dente (you may not need all of it, depending on how much juice the chicken itself gives off) and the chicken is cooked all the way through. Turn off the stove, add the peas and olives and let heat through about 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, if you’re feeling it.
Written during The Muppet Show.