Saturday 2 May 2015

Arroz Con Pollo with Chanterelles from NotWithoutSalt.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

Still on my Mexican craze and not quite ready to admit it's soup weather this week in Sydney.... I made Arroz Con Pollo with Chanterelles from NotWithoutSalt Blog. Translated to 'Rice with Chicken and fancy mushrooms'. The 'fancy mushrooms' bit I translated... I'm a little bitter at the price and lack there of in my local supermarket so button mushrooms had to do.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i
The first time I made (a different recipe) Arroz con Pollo about 6 years ago I burnt my mum's pan till there was a thick layer of charchol-ed blackened rice stuck to the bottom of it. When we served up we couldn't let the spoon anywhere near the base of the pan in fear of having a spoonful of bitter burnt rice for dinner. Needless to say I've never been in a rush to make this again until I saw the recipe on Ashley Rodriguez's blog with all the lovely fresh trimmings on top.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

This recipe warms you up from the inside out and fills your belly just like you want on a cold night but has a freshness to it from the feta/parmesan (I'll explain further on) and coriander so it's great for people in denial that winter is coming. I mean how can you go wrong with chicken and rice right?!

It's a good midweek meal if you're having people over or have more than two mouths to feed. There is quite a bit of chopping, frying and stirring in the recipe but then all you do it wait until the rice and chicken are cooked... it's a good pottering recipe.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

However the Mexican cheese stumped me. Cotija. Never heard of it. I did some googling and it came up with a Mexican cheese, crumbly like feta but also like parmesan. I had feta and I had parmesan in the fridge so I guess I had my substitute, right? Anyway... I've never tasted Cotija so I couldn't tell you if it's right or wrong. I mixed the two cheeses together and used that instead and it tasted pretty great to me and I would do it all over again. Plus it's pretty impressive bringing it to the table so it's a good one to keep up your sleeve when friends come round for dinner.

If anyone has actually tried this Mexican cheese please leave a comment below and let me know if I was on the right track by combining both those cheeses or if I have done this dish a terrible travesty?

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

Arrozo Con Pollo with Chanterelles

by Ashley Rodriguez from NotWithoutSalt (find original recipe here).
Serves 4

(recipe adapted slightly to incorporate what I had and could find.)

3 tomatoes, halved lengthways
6 skinless chicken thighs, boneless (if you can find them with skin on use skin on - much tastier!)
Salt and Pepper
1 medium red onion, finely diced
225g chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used button mushrooms)
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of dry sherry (I used white wine)
1 medium red capsicum
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme (if you have fresh use 4 sprigs instead)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sweet pimenton de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika - I used regular smoked paprika)
a good pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup arborio rice
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 bunch coriander, roughly chopped (stalks reserved), to serve
4 spring onions, finely sliced
3/4 cup cotija (or a combination of grated parmesan and crumbled feta), to serve

- Grate the cut side of all the tomato halves using a box grater and the large holes over a bowl, discard the skins.

- Place a large pan or deep skillet over high heat until it almost starts to smoke (if you are using skinless chicken thighs add a little vegetable oil to the pan to help it along). Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and add the chicken pieces to the pan/skillet, skin side down and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken onto a plate.

- Using the leftover fat in the pan, add the onions, mushrooms and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until caramelised. Add the garlic and coriander stalks and cook for a further 1 minute then deglaze the pan by adding your sherry (or wine).

- Next add the capsicum and cook until they start to soften. Then add the thyme, bay leaf, paprika and chilli flakes stirring everything together well. After about 2 minuets it will start to smell fragrant, add your tomato mush and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone.

- Add the stock to the pan and bring it to a boil then add your rice and saffron. Give everything a good stir then nestle the chicken pieces into the rice.

- Turn the heat down to low, place a lid ajar and try not to stir anymore (I say try because I can never help myself). Cook for about 30-35 minutes until the chicken and rice are cooked through. Once cooked remove the bay leaf and any sprigs from the thyme if you used fresh and season with salt and pepper.

- To serve, top with spring onions, coriander leaves and cotija (or the combination of cheeses) and don't forget the hot sauce on the table for anyone who likes a bit of spice.

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