Hello my dear friends! Today I am bringing you one of my favorite dishes ever: Colombian arroz con pollo or Colombian chicken and rice. This is one of the most popular dishes in colombian cuisine and its no surprise considering this rice dish is delicious, very filling and very nutritious! Not to mention cheap. Colombian Arroz con Pollo is one of the most inexpensive meals you can make! I absolutely adore this recipe!
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My Colombian Arroz con Pollo Recipe
My love for this chicken and rice recipe came from my mother. She used to make it a little bit different than me though. I remember she started by chopping the raw chicken in pieces (with bones and all) and then cooked them alongside the vegetables. Once the chicken was tender, rice was added to the pot and left to be cooked together some more. The result was a very tasty and creamy rice. A dream!
But hey friends, even though I love her recipe so much, I have simplified the cooking process. Why? Well, I find it that if I cook the vegetables, shredded chicken breast and the rice separately and then mix them together, the whole recipe comes together quicker and also, I can make sure the chicken bones are left out because my children don’t like them.
I assure you though, this colombian arroz con pollo is just as tasty as my mum’s! The best thing about it? The aroma! This chicken and rice smells of achiote, a typical colombian condiment that can literally be smelled from any corner of the house! It has a this very bright yellow color that is super characteristic of the Colombian cuisine.
Ingredients for Colombian Arroz con Pollo
For this recipe of Colombian arroz con pollo you will need:
- Chicken: I will use chicken breast because I find it easier to shred. However, you can use your favourite part of the chicken. I find that chicken thighs are very tasty as well.
- Rice: Today we are using long grain white rice, although round grain rice (like the one used in paellas) will be fine too!
- Vegetables: If you know me, you know my number one rule in the kitchen: There are no limits with vegetables! So naturally, feel free to use the ones you like the most and combine them to your liking to obtain a healthy and balanced dish! At this time we are going to need some fresh white or red onions, carrots, celery, green or red pepper and frozen peas.
- Condiments: Salt, pepper, ground cumin, garlic, bay leaves, coriander (cilantro), achiote powder ( you can replace it with paprika or yellow colouring)
- Other: Virgin olive oil , ketchup and water.
- Optional: Colombian salchichas rancheras or smoked sausages.
**Find all the specific quantities below. Jump to Recipe↓
How to make Colombian chicken rice
Boil the chicken
- Add the chicken breast, 2 garlic cloves, half an onion, salt and a couple of bay leaves in a pot with water. Once you have all of your flavors added, bring your water to a boil. Cover the pot and lower the heat slightly so it stays at a pretty rapid simmer. Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, they should simmer for about 20 minutes. After this time, remove one piece from the pot and check If they need more time check every 5 minutes. Don’t let them overcook or they will become rubbery.
- Once the chicken is cooked, drain (saving the chicken broth for later) and allow it to cool to room temperature. When you can handle the chicken without burning yourself, use two forks to shred the entire brisket or slice it up. Set aside.
Cook the rice
- Place some of the chicken broth we had reserved in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add some achiote or yellow color to taste, pepper, salt or seasonings if needed to reinforce the flavour.
- When the water boils, stir in the rice. In general, use 2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of uncooked rice. Give it a stir so that the rice is covered by the water.
- Let the water return to a light simmer then lower heat and cook, covered for 18 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. It may take a bit longer, especially if you are making a larger quantity. So keep an eye on it.
- Once cooked, turn off the heat and let the rice sit for another couple of minutes to finish absorbing any liquid. Take off the lid, fluff the rice with a fork and let it sit.
Prepare the “sofrito”
This is what we are going to do with the veggies:
- Wash the carrots well, peel and cut into small cubes and boil along the peas until soft, then drain using a strainer. Set aside.
- Chop the onions, peppers, celery, cilantro finely.
- In a large pot, add some olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped onion and stir until golden brown.
- If you are using sausages, chop them into slices now and add them to the pot. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add some crushed garlic and the rest of the vegetables, including the carrots and the peas.
- Cook the sofrito over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring until softened.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the seasoning: In this recipe I use 1 tspn of achiote powder, 1 tspn of cumin, 1 tspn of thyme and 1 tspn of oregano. At this point I also like to add 2 tablespoons of ketchup! Trust me! and then cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is soft and the sauce has thickened.
- Finally, add the shredded chicken. Stir well until perfectly combined.
- Remove from the heat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the cooked yellow rice and the sofrito with the chicken until fully integrated! Serve immediately with some salas, French fries or Colombian fried plantains!
Tips to make the best Colombian Arroz con Pollo
While it is true that the colombian arroz con pollo is naturally rich in flavor, there are certain tips that can take your preparation to the next level.
- Boiling the chicken breast with garlic, salt and bay leaves will enhance the flavour of the chicken and the overall result will be wonderful. Since we are using the chicken broth to cook the rice, be careful not to add too much salt because we do not want salty rice.
- Add different vegetables. If you have never used a certain vegetable in the kitchen, I recommend adding it to your rice in small pieces and trying it out preparation after preparation. For instance, I recently started adding celery to my meals and honestly, celery is a vegetable I have never liked. I assure you that this way you will find a winning combination for your meals.
- If you don’t like peas, add sweet corn instead. You can even use both. Like I said, in the kitchen it’s all about testing.
- Whenever possible, add some fried ranch or smoked sausages to the rice. It truly gives a delicious touch!
- Don’t skip the ketchup! Add it when cooking the sauce!
- And finally if you can, make your Colombian chicken rice with anticipation. Let it chill it, refrigerate it overnight, and reheat before serving. The flavours will combine beautifully and it will certainly taste even better the next day. Now, if you can’t wait that long, just enjoy it right away!
How to store colombian chicken rice?
If you have some rice leftover and want to enjoy it another time, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. If you want to keep it longer then you should freeze it in an airtight bag or container for up to 1 month
It is important to freeze rice shortly after cooking as a bacteria present in rice named Bacillus can survive the cooking process and can easily cause food poisoning. Since bacteria thrive at room temperature, taking the rice to the freezer stops the potential growth of bacteria. It also makes freezing a better option than refrigeration.
Where can I buy Achiote?
If you live outside Latin America, achiote is commonly labeled as annatto or ground annatto seeds, and they are mostly found in the Latin section of a grocery store, as well as Asian or Mexican markets.
More Rice Recipes…
Looking for more rice recipes? Here are some suggestions:
- How to make fluffy white rice
- Spinach rice 🥬
- Colombian Shrimp Rice 🍤
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Colombian Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice)
- 500 grams White long, medium or short
- 500 grams Peas
- 5 Smoked sausages chopped into small pieces
- ½ Green or red bell pepper
- ½ Chicken Breast
- 4 Carrots Medium size
- 2 Onions
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 tspn Cumin
- 1 tspn Achiote or Yellow color
- 1 tspn Oregano
- 1 tspn Thyme
- Olive oil
- 2 tbps Ketchup
- Salt and pepper
Boil the chicken breast
- To prepare a delicious colombian arroz con pollo, cook the chicken in enough water, salt, half an onion, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 bay leaf over medium heat for 20 to 35 minutes. (Depending on the size). Once cooked, take it out of the pot and let it rest. When it is cold, shred it with the help of a fork or with your hands and reserve. Save the chicken broth to make the rice.
How to make colombian arroz con pollo
- Cut the onions, bell pepper, celery and the coriander finely. Set aside.
- Chop the carrots into small cubes and cook them in a pot along the peas until soft.
- Pour some olive oil in a saucepan and bring it to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until golden. If you are using sausages, chop them into slices and add them to the saucepan. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add some crushed garlic and the rest of the vegetables, including the cooked carrots and the peas.
- Cook the sofrito over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring until softened. Then add the seasoning to your liking. Add 2 tablespoons of ketchup as well.Cook for an additional 10 minutes until everything is soft. Finally, add the shredded chicken. Stir well until perfectly combined. Remove from the heat. Set aside.
- Mix the cooked rice and the sofrito with the chicken until fully combined!
- Let the rice stand at room temperature10 minutes before serving. That's it! Enjoy a good plate of homemade colombian chicken rice!