Arroz con Pollo
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken, cut into 6 or 8 serving pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lard or bacon fat
- 4 ounces salt pork or bacon, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter
- 4 ounces very fine (fideo or capellini) noodles, broken into 1inch lengths
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shortgrain rice
- 1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1/8 teaspoon ground saffron, or a tiny pinch saffron threads, crushed
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Rinse and pat the chicken pieces completely dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a heavy ovenproof casserole, heat the lard or bacon fat over medium heat. Add the salt pork and, stirring frequently, cook until it is crisp and golden and has rendered all its fat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to paper towels to drain and add the chicken pieces to the casserole. Using heavy kitchen tongs, brown the chicken pieces quickly and evenly, turning to brown all sides. Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.
Pour off and discard all but a thin film of fat from the casserole and add the butter. Increase the heat to medium and when the pan is hot, throw in the noodles. Cook them, stirring almost constantly, until they are browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately reduce the heat to low and add the onion. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened. Add the garlic, paprika, and tomatoes and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thickened. Return the chicken pieces and salt pork to the casserole.
Add the rice, peas, boiling water, saffron, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together gently but thoroughly and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer very gently for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and done all the way through with no trace of pink remaining. The rice will have absorbed all the liquid. Stir in the parsley, cover again and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
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