A staple in Latin American kitchens, arroz con pollo combines inexpensive ingredients—chicken, rice, and spices—in a filling one-pot meal. To make our version, we chose moist chicken thighs, which we browned in a Dutch oven to build flavor and render fat. We used the food processor to transform onion, cilantro, cubanelle pepper, garlic, and cumin into a flavorful sofrito that serves as the backbone for the dish. We found that we preferred medium-grain rice to long- and short-grain varieties because it gave the dish a creamy, cohesive texture. Sazón seasoning does double duty here, adding both savory flavor and vibrant color.
Sazón is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking. We developed this recipe with Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (or con Culantro y Achiote). It can be found in the international aisle of most supermarkets; however, other brands will work. (One tablespoon of Goya Sazón equals about two packets.) If you can’t find sazón, use our homemade version. You can substitute 3/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper for the Cubanelle pepper. Allow the rice to rest for the full 15 minutes before lifting the lid to check it. Long-grain rice may be substituted for medium-grain, but the rice will be slightly less creamy.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process cilantro, 1/2 cup onion, Cubanelle, garlic, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer sofrito to bowl.
2. Process mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sofrito in now-empty processor until almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mayonnaise-herb sauce to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to pot skin side down and cook without moving it until skin is crispy and golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until golden on second side, 7 to 9 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate; discard skin.
4. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.
5. Stir in broth, olives, capers, bay leaves, remaining sofrito, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to vigorous simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes.
6. Transfer pot to wire rack and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and stir in peas, if using. Discard bay leaves. Serve with mayonnaise-herb sauce and lemon wedges.
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