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Arroz Con Pollo A La Chorrera
(Cuban Chicken and Yellow Rice With Beer)

1 chicken (1 Kg)
60 ml olive oil
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
250 ml water
2 cups short grain rice
1 red bell pepper, charred over an open flame, for garnish

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring, optional
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups bitter beer
1/4 cup small green peas

This is a popular Cuban dish, which blends the flavors of the Old
World (Spain), with the New World (The Americas). It is of Cuban
origin, and very much eaten amongst Cubans. The beer must be a
bitter one (highly hopped) like Fosters Bitter, or Pilzner Uriquel
from Czechoslovakia, or Sapporo from Japan.

Char red bell pepper over an open flame. Just put the pepper on
an open flame, turning every now and then, until black all over.
When cool to touch, take the black skin off under running cold
water. Cut into strips of about 2 centimeters, and set aside.

Take the chicken and cut it into drumsticks, thighs, wings, and
breast cut in quarters. Save the rest of the carcass for chicken
stock if you want. I like to remove the skin from the breast and
thighs, but leave it on the wings and drum sticks. Rinse under cold
water, and pat dry each piece with paper towels. In a Dutch Oven
add the olive oil. Heat at medium/high heat for about one minute.

Add the chicken pieces one by one to form an almost single layer.
Add salt and pepper to taste. When browned on one side, turn over,
and again, salt & pepper to taste. Cook over medium/high heat until
golden on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pt, and place
aside. Discard all but about 2 tab of fat from the pot. Scrape the
pieces of chicken that are stuck to the pot, with a wooden spoon.
When the oil is hot again, add the onions and green bell pepper,
and saffron threads broken up with your fingers. Saute until onion
is a little transparent. Add the garlic (avoid burning the garlic
which imparts a harsh flavor on the food) and stir for a minute or
two more.

Add the 3 tablespoons tomato paste, and cook for another two minutes,
while stirring constantly. After the two minutes, return the
chicken to the pot, add the rice, and stir. Cook for another minute.
Add the two cups of water, and stir the whole thing. Cover with
a lid, lower the heat to low/medium (making sure the rice doesn't
burn), and cook for 30 minutes. During those 30 minutes, you must
stir the dish about 2 times. No more than that or you will break
the chicken and make the rice very gooey. If you find that the rice
is sticking to the bottom, scrape it gently, and lower the heat.

After the 30 minutes, add half of the green peas, and add the beer.
Stir it once more, to get all the beer into the rice. Lower the
heat to low. Cover again, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes
until the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be fluffy, and not
hard, nor too mushy. If it is hard, add a little more beer, and
cover and cook over low heat for another 10 minutes. Correct for
salt and black pepper to taste.

After that, add the remaining half of the peas, and give it a good
stir. Arrange long slices of the charred red pepper, so as to adorn
the dish. Serve with a nice cold beer that you were using for the
cooking. A complete delicious and nutritious meal in one. It really
tastes better when you put it in the refrigerator overnight, and
heat your portion in the microwave oven.


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