Arroz con Pollo (kinda)

The difficult thing about having short(ish) hair is that you actually have to get it cut every once in a while.

Since I have been so busy with work and moving, I realized that my hair is seriously overgrown and in need of a trim. Since I donated my hair last year, I usually tell myself, “If all your hair fits into a ponytail, it’s time to get it cut!”

I’ve been in ponytail land for weeks now. It’s time.

The problem is, I have gotten my hair cut by the same stylist for over 10 years and he works in my parents’ neighborhood, which is 20 minutes away. I am a car-less, bike-less girl who depends on her boyfriend to drive her everywhere, and I work from 9-6 every day. What’s a girl to do? I’m starting to realize that a change in stylist might have to happen soon.

But change isn’t all that bad, you see. I’ve been bookmarking recipes for Arroz con Pollo for a while now, and I’ve been really wanting to make it. The most appealing are this paella-style Arroz con Pollo from A Cozy Kitchen, and this beautiful version from Joy the Baker.

I noticed a common ingredient in both recipes, which presented a problem: Arroz con Pollo is not Arroz con Pollo without saffron. And try as I might, I can’t find those little red stems anywhere! Okay, so I only looked in one aisle at Safeway and at the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market where everything is 1 day away from expiring……but that’s beside the point.

I decided that a change was necessary, and I put my own Tex-Mex spin on the one-pot dish. It may not have been traditional, but it was delicious, and easy to make!

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 chicken thighs (with bone and skin! promise it’s worth it!)
1/2 cup brown rice
olive oil, as needed
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 zucchini (feel free to sub in any veggies you want- I just happened to have mushrooms and zuc’s!)
chili powder, to taste
paprika, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
your favorite hot sauce (optional)
cilantro (optional)

1. Using the pot that you’re going to cook the meal in, warm some olive oil on the pan, and use it to sear your chicken thighs for a few minutes on each side. Discard the chicken.

The thigh on the right was sad because its skin ripped. Oops!

2. Remove all but 1-2 tbs of the chicken grease. You don’t have to cook the remaining ingredients in the chicken grease, but I promise it tastes AWESOME if you do. Use the grease to saute the onions, and add in garlic once the onions are translucent.

3. Add the rice and stir it so that it’s all coated, then add chicken stock. Water or vegetable stock can be used in its place, or even a combo of stock + water if you’re watching your sodium intake. Reduce heat so that the rice is simmering. Cover and let cook. Brown rice takes a bit longer to cook, anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Don’t be afraid to add more water or stock if it needs it!

This may look like a big boring pot of stock….. But just wait!

4. About halfway through cooking the rice when there’s still a good amount of liquid, add the spices and tomato paste and stir so it gets evenly distributed. Then, place chicken thighs on top of the rice to cook with it.

5. A few minutes before the rice is cooked, add in the veggies. I also added some hot sauce at this point!

6. The dish is finished when the rice is cooked. But don’t wait for all the liquid to evaporate – soupy is good! If desired, top it off with a few sprigs of cilantro to give it a bright fresh finish! Then, feed it to your Mexican friend as he tells you that the rice tastes just like the kind his mom makes ;-)

The moral of the story is: Change is good.

I apologize, as always, for the fugly state of these pictures and my kitchen. I’m still in move-in mode, and I reserve the right to maintain the “move-in mode” excuse for at least 2 more weeks! :-D

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