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One-pot chicken dish like hug from grandma

Arroz con pollo literally means “rice with chicken” in Spanish. Nearly every culture has a rendition of this dish because it’s inexpensive, feeds a crowd, it’s easy to throw together and everyone loves it.

In this all-in-one-pot meal the chicken, rice and vegetables all simmer together creating a bountiful dish of juicy, succulent chicken with rice, peppers and tomatoes just bursting with flavor. This is my go-to recipe when chicken thighs are on sale. Any leftovers taste even better the next day and it freezes beautifully.

This recipe is quite versatile. While I prefer chicken thighs with bone and skin, you can use any chicken pieces you wish, such as leg quarters, legs, breasts or a combination. Using bone-in, skin-on pieces brings amazing depth of flavor to this dish but if you want to lighten it up, you can certainly prepare it with boneless, skinless pieces.

If you love spicy food, add serrano or jalapeño peppers to the mix of onion and bell peppers.

You can use any kind of rice you have on hand, but you may need to adjust the liquid and add more or less time depending on the variety used. If you want to use brown rice in this dish, due to the long cooking time you’ll want to have three cups of brown rice already cooked. Simply add the precooked rice when you add the tomatoes but be sure to omit the chicken broth and the water. It’s delicious and the way I usually make this dish because brown rice rules.

There are two optional ingredients: peas and green olives. I love the sweetness brought by the peas and the briny bite of the olives, but the dish doesn’t suffer if you don’t add them. It’s delicious with or without.

So, next time chicken thighs are on sale I hope you’ll think of this recipe. It’s a frugal family favorite, just like a culinary hug from your abuelita.

ARROZ CON POLLO

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 1 hour

What you’ll need:

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried cumin

3-4 pounds chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 16-ounce bag frozen onion and pepper blend, thawed

1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups long grain white rice

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies

1 cup frozen peas, thawed — optional

½ cup manzanilla pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained — optional

Here’s how:

In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic and cumin. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and sprinkle the seasonings evenly over them.

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cooking in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan, add the chicken, skin side down, into the skillet. Cook the chicken until well browned, about six minutes. Then flip it over and cook the other side until browned, about four minutes more. Repeat with any remaining chicken pieces.

You don’t have to cook the chicken completely; it’ll finish cooking with the rest of the dish. But it does need to be well browned. Set aside and keep warm.

Lower the heat to medium. In the same skillet, sauté the onion and pepper blend until softened. Sprinkle with salt. Add the rice and garlic, and stir to combine, sautéing until the rice becomes golden and the garlic fragrant. Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and 1 cup of water to the skillet, then give it a stir. (I rinse out the tomato cans with the cup of water and add it to the pot. It finally happened; I have become my mother.)

Bring the skillet to a boil and add the chicken, skin side up, to the pan. Just nestle them in there. Make sure the rice is covered with liquid and pop the lid on it. Reduce heat to low and let this simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. Check to be sure the rice isn’t crunchy then check the chicken for temperature, you’re looking for 165 F. Add the peas and/or olives and stir.

While this is a one-pot meal and doesn’t require any side dishes, you could start with a nice, crisp cold green salad or chilled tomato soup (or gazpacho). To have more green things on your plate, serve green beans, with slivered almonds for crunch.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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