September 12, 2011

11:51 a.m.

Miami, FL

We are here! Mark and I are now busy unpacking boxes and settling into our new home.

On Sunday my family greeted us to a wonderful welcome home lunch of Arroz Con Pollo! The chef for the day was family friend Rene Viera. He's a charismatic man who's quick with a joke and has a contagious laugh. He's also a good listener which is the first indication that he has the patience required to be a wonderful cook! I ask him what he likes about cooking. He thinks about it for a second before calmly replying, "It relaxes me."

Rene was born in Havana, the son of a prominent journalist. Now that I am home I want to begin learning Cuban recipes so I can one day share them with our daughter. Rene offered to teach Mark and I how to make Arroz con Pollo. This lunch was also the first time Mina got to meet her Great-Grandfather Andrew Vazquez. It was nice having the whole family together!

Photos: On The Road

Slideshow: Through The Years

As Rene cooked, I took notes and pictures for me and for you! This recipe feeds 8 people.


Chicken: Rene says he always buys skinless drumsticks and thighs. The reason?: Chicken breast is very dry, whereas the drumsticks and thighs are juicier. Since he wanted to cook for 8 people, he guessed 3 pieces each for a total of 24 pieces.

Olive Oil

Sweet Peas (8 oz)

Roasted Red Peppers (12 oz)

Tomato Sauce: (4 oz)

Bijol Seasoning (two 1 ½ oz jars): Did you know?: Bijol was founded in 1922 in Cuba

Onions: 1 ½ to 2 large size Yellow Onions

Goya: California Pearl Rice Arroz Tipe Valenciano (two 14oz bags)

1 Bulb of Garlic Did you know?: A clove of garlic is Spanish is called a "diente de ajo." Diente means "tooth" in English.

First you want to let the chicken marinate overnight in a simple rub of garlic powder and salt. Just sprinkle on the chicken and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Next you want to work on the sofrito. In this case it is a combination of onions and garlic. Dice 1 ¾ Yellow Onions and a bulb of garlic. Rene will place each clove of garlic, or diente de ajo, under a knife to mash it and then cut it. Place in pan with some olive oil and let that simmer. Rene explains how the onions add flavor to the rice.

Up next, set the oven to 450-degrees.

In a pot, place some onion with a touch of olive oil and then at 3-4 pieces at a time brown the chicken, don't cook it. Just flip several times on either side to slightly brown the skin.

Boil enough water to make the rice. Follow rice package instructions. Usually 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.