Eight years ago, Jorge and I were married, and I discovered a new, wonderful cuisine. Puerto Rican food is some of the best food on the planet. Not too spicy, but never dull. They use all the best seasonings; oregano, garlic, onions, olive oil…who wouldn’t love it?
Now, I will never cook as well as my mother-in-law, but that doesn’t keep me out of la cocina (the kitchen). There are several good cookbooks out there that are either written in English or have been translated to English. My favorites (just to name a few) are “A Taste of Puerto Rico” by Yvonne Ortiz, “Puerto Rico True Flavors” by Wilo Benet, and of course, “Daisy Cooks!” by Daisy Martinez. If you’re not familiar with Daisy, she is on PBS and Food Network. She is to Puerto Rico what Paula Deen is to the South. In other words, she rocks! : )
One of the first things I learned to cook is Puerto Rican style yellow rice. It is a basic dish, and varies slightly depending on the cook. Usually, I just “eyeball” it, so today when I decided to post this recipe, I had to stop and measure the ingredients as I cooked. Again, this is one of those things that can vary according to your tastes, so don’t get too hung up on being exact.
PUERTO RICAN-STYLE YELLOW RICE (ARROZ AMARILLO)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. BADIA Amarillo Yellow Coloring
1/4 tsp. GOYA® Adobo con Pimiento (With Pepper)
1 packet GOYA® Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (con Culantro Y Achiote)
1 packet GOYA® Chicken Bouillon
1 Tbsp. GOYA® Frozen Recaito, thawed
1/2 C. tomato sauce
2 C. water
2 C. medium-grain white rice
1 Tbsp. diced ham
2 Tbsp. alcaparrado
To effectively cook rice, you need to find just the right pot in which to cook it. I use a caldero, which is the traditional cooking pot used for cooking rice and other foods in Puerto Rico. Basically, it’s a Dutch oven. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the next 7 ingredients. When the water comes to a boil, add the rice. Turn the rice down to low. When the water has evaporated until it is level with the rice, add the ham and alcaparrado, stir once, put the lid on and turn heat as low as possible. Let rice simmer approximately 20 minutes. Now, you don’t want your rice to be too wet. This should not be a sticky rice; but, of course, you don’t want it to stick and burn. The only way this will work is to LEAVE THE RICE ALONE!! This is very difficult for me. My usual approach to cooking is to hover over the stove, checking, stirring, sometimes even praying. With yellow rice, you can’t do this. Well, you can pray, but you need to do it from a distance. I have learned that when I turn it down and put the lid on, it’s best to just leave the room. Really. You have to do this. Now, as for alcaparrado, it is a combination of olives, capers, and pimentos. If you can’t find it in your store, don’t sweat it; just use pimento stuffed olives. If you can’t find the packets of chicken bouillon, again, don’t worry. Just use a chicken bouillon cube. It’s basically the same. Here is what it should look like when the water has evaporated.
Now, for the chicken thighs:
FRIED CHICKEN THIGHS
6-8 chicken thighs, skin on
GOYA® Adobo con Pimiento (With Pepper)
Crisco or vegetable oil
Season the chicken with Adobo and paprika to taste. Season under the skin, as well. Set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
This can be done in a deep fryer, if you want. I don’t own one, but they really would cook quicker and more evenly in a fryer. I use the cast-iron skillet I use for frying chicken. It’s deeper than a normal skillet and has a lid, and well, I’m just really a fan of cast-iron. So, there you go.
Fry the chicken pieces until brown, crispy, and cooked through.
Drain on paper towels.