If my mother sees this recipe, I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do. It was a challenge to convey all the flavors of the traditional Cuban dish but keep the GERD* components at bay. Lighter and leaner than the original, this Spanish Chicken & Rice can go from start to finish in roughly half an hour.
The traditional rice used in this sort of Latin dish is a medium or short-grain rice, like Spanish Bomba or an Italian risotto rice such as Arborio. Any will deliver the chewy texture that makes this dish so pleasing. If asparagus is not in season, substitute six-ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained, quartered lengthwise, and blotted on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve with a lovely green salad, such as Arugula and Hearts of Palm Salad.
SPANISH CHICKEN & RICE
12 ounces thick skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, preferably pimentón de la Vera
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup short-grain rice, such as Bomba or Arborio
1½ cups (about 14 ounces) diced peeled tomatoes, preferably Pomi brand (see note, page 132)
½ teaspoon saffron threads
3 cups Easy Rotisserie Chicken Stock
or any reduced-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
½ cup Spanish pimiento-stuffed green olives
12 asparagus stalks, trimmed to about 6 inches
8 to 12 strips piquillo peppers or peeled, roasted red bell peppers, for garnish
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks. Toss in a bowl with 1⁄2 teaspoon each of the cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a paella pan or large skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until it just begins to color. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the chicken. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken is mostly white outside.
- Sprinkle on the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is opaque. Add the tomatoes, the remaining 1 teaspoon each cumin and oregano, the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika, the saffron, and 21⁄2 cups of the stock. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the remaining 1⁄2 cup stock, peas, and olives. Arrange the asparagus on top. Garnish with the strips of pepper. Cover, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the asparagus is just tender.
- Note: When I can find it, I use Pomi brand cut-up tomatoes because the brand contains only one ingredient: tomatoes, with no added acid.
- Piquillo peppers come in jars and offer a nice piquant but not hot note. Otherwise, ordinary peeled, roasted red bell peppers, which are available both jarred and in olive bars in many supermarkets, would do nicely.
*GERD: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Reprinted with permission from The Acid Reflux Solution: A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally by Dr. Jorge E. Rodriguez (Ten Speed Press, © 2012). Photo Credit: Jennifer Martiné.