Ever since New Year’s Eve, I’ve felt a bit off. No, it’s not a cold. I am definitely developing a mild case of cabin fever. Maybe it’s the post-holiday letdown or the cold temperatures, but I find myself increasingly fantasizing about going to warm, exotic locals. Havana, Cuba, is one place that I’ve always been interested in visiting and more than once I’ve looked into traveling there.
While this winter I probably won’t make it to Ernest Hemingway’s beloved bar Floridita, I will do the next best thing—I will satisfy my wanderlust with Cuban cocktails (Mojito anyone?) and Cuban food.
A great source of inspiration and recipes is Paladares, the latest book from James Beard Award-winning writer by Anya von Bremzen. The oversized and lavishly illustrated volume takes its name from the island’s independently run restaurants that are often located in people’s homes. Her take on the classic entrée, chicken and rice, is perfect for a late weekend lunch or a dinner.
“A flamboyant Latin-American answer to the Spanish paella, the festive one-pot treat known as arroz con pollo is adored across Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean,” wrote von Bremzen in the intro to the recipe. “This Cuban iteration was a famous late-nineteenth-century dish served at Casa Arana, a stately restaurant located at the mouth of the Almendares River near Havana’s emblematic seventeenth-century Chorrera Tower.”
The secret to the flavorful and fork-tender meat is the citrusy marinade and the other liquid ingredients, including stock, beer, and wine. Plus, it feeds a crowd and should tide you over to your next trip.
Chicken and Rice—Arroz con Pollo a la Chorrera
- 3 pounds Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- .33 cup Sour orange juice, or an equal mix of lime and orange juice
- 1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic, plus 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- .25 cup Annatto oil
- 1 cup Chopped yellow onion
- .5 cup Chopped green bell pepper
- .5 cup Chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup Chopped seeded tomato
- .5 cup Dry white wine
- 6 cups Chicken stock or water
- 3 cups Medium-grain white rice
- .25 tsp Saffron threads, crumbled
- .5 cup Lager-style beer
- 2 Tbsp Capers in brine
- 1 (10-ounce) Box thawed frozen peas
- 1 cup Thinly sliced roasted red pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, sour orange juice, minced garlic, cumin, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. In a large, wide pot, heat the annatto oil over medium heat. Working in batches, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning once, for 7 to 8 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- In the same pot, combine the onion, green pepper, and red pepper and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomato and white wine and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to cook off the alcohol a bit. Pour in 2 cups of the stock and return the chicken to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the rice and saffron and continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pour in another 2 cups of the stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the final 2 cups of the stock and the beer and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the capers, peas, and roasted red pepper. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste.
- This recipe serves 10.
From Paladares by Anya von Bremzen, Development and Photography by Megan Fawn Schlow. Copyright © 2017 Abrams.