Every family probably has a back pocket recipe for Chicken and Rice. Around my house, we have quite a few different recipes from our Lowcountry Chicken Pilau to this Caribbean Chicken and Rice. The Caribbean is famous for dishes using many combinations of vegetables, meat, fish and seasonings. This recipe is from Puerto Rico and was first prepared for me by my Puerto Rican coworker, Jaime. It was delicious.
Like a mirepoix in cooking, also sometimes called the “trinity,” which contains onions, bell peppers, and celery, this dish starts with sofrito as it’s base. Sofrito is a combination of tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh herbs. I’ve seen this in jars at the grocery in the International foods aisle but it’s so easy to prepare and the brightness from the fresh herbs is just not comparable to any jarred sauce. This adaptation of Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo can easily be made with ingredients easily found at your favorite market.
This dish traditionally uses a whole chicken cut up and simmered for nearly an hour. To make it more weeknight friendly, we’re starting with boneless, skinless chicken breast. There’s also another shortcut you can use which is to use frozen cut onions and bell peppers. They sell these in 2-pound bags in the grocer’s freezer section by the vegetables. I pay about $3 a bag but the ratio of onions to bell peppers is good and it works in a pinch when I am out of the fresh stuff. Most often, however, I start with all fresh ingredients.
Skillet Caribbean Chicken and Rice
Bursting with flavor, this Puerto Rican version of Skillet Caribbean Chicken and Rice is easy to make and ready in just about 30 minutes.
For the Skillet
- 1 lb chicken, boneless & skinless breast, tenders or thighs cut into pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. Mexican Oregano
- 1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup medium grain rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 can pigeon peas drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup olives drained and sliced
- 1 jar (4 oz.) sliced pimientos, drained
- 1 tbsp capers
For the Garnish
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro1 fresh tomato, diced
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, form the sofrito base by adding the stewed tomatoes (with all the liquid), onions and garlic. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Add the water and the rice and stir to combine. Heat to boiling and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- When the rice is almost finished, add the pigeon peas, olives, capers and pimentos and stir to incorporate. Cover and simmer until the rice is fully cooked. Stir and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and diced, fresh tomatoes.
If you prefer to skip making your own sofrito, there are commercially prepared versions sold on the International foods aisle in the grocery located where you would find other spanish foods and seasonings. Mexican Oregano, is also usually sold in small packets on this aisle