Arroz con Pollo – Panamanian Style

Okay, I promised my mother’s world famous Arroz con Pollo, so now I give it.  I made modifications to my mother’s recipe, preferring all natural products to some of the Goya substitutes she used as I was growing up, but overall I love my version.  In fact, I had a very good friend from my ESU days, Mike Quick over today and I served it to him.  He said that he really liked it, and my son declared that it was magnificent.

Arroz con Pollo is a Latin dish which means chicken and rice, but over the years I noticed that each Latin culture has their own rendition of it.  As stated above, this is my variation, based on my mother’s Panamanian version.  It will feed five to eight people.  The ingredients you need are:

  • My all purpose meat seasoning
  • Oil – I use coconut
  • 8-10 pieces of chicken.  My mother usually butchered an entire chicken.  I prefer to used skinless thighs and breasts, with the bone.
  • 1 large onion or 2 small ones
  • 1 average to large pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (1 – 2 cloves depending on the size)
  • ¼ – ½ cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives (here is my first deviation from my mother’s recipe.  Naturally she used Spanish Olives, eventually substituting Goya’s Alacaparrado , I’m sure I butchered the spelling, which is a mixture of pitted Spanish olives and sliced pimento.  I don’t like eating foods with pits and I prefer the milder taste of the Kalamata olives.  Sorry Mom).
  • 12 oz of beer (I find that this is where Panama differs from many other Hispanic versions of this dish)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of pasta sauce if homemade.  If not, substitute 2 tbsp of tomato paste and 2 cups water
  • 1 pinch of saffron (another deviation from Mom’s use of Goya’s Sazon – I prefer to use the more natural seasoning)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ – 1 tsp pepper (this is truly a personal spice preference, I use 1 tsp)
  • 1 dash of Panamanian or West Indian hot sauce (I make my mother’s hot sauce – I’m sorry, but this is a blend I only share with family as I sell it)
  • 5 cups of rinsed white rice
  • 1 roasted pepper (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. While heating your oil over a medium heat in a large pan, preferable with a heavy lid, season both sides of your chicken with salt, pepper and the meat seasoning.Image
  3. Brown both sides of the chicken to lock in the flavors, it makes a big difference.  You are looking for a sear, you’re not cooking the chicken at this stage.  Work in batches and place the chicken on a plate.  While browning the chicken, dice your onion(s) and pepper.Image
  4. When all the chicken has been browned and placed on a plate/platter, saute the onion(s) and pepper in the same pot from which you just removed the chicken.  This allows them to soften and get flavored from the chicken and seasonings.Image
  5. Next is the fun part, the beer.  Now the rule of thumb when cooking with alcohol is to use something you would actually drink.  My mother always used the cheapest can of beer she could find, and I tried that route.  Didn’t work.  My new problem was the fact that I never cared for beer, but I remembered that there was a beer I hated less than the others – Moosehead.  I know, I know, I try to buy American, you know, support our own economy, but in this case, Moosehead gave me the flavor I loved, so it’s the one I use.  Deglaze the pan with your beer of choice and let it cook down a bit (culinary term – reduction).Image
  6. Add in your chicken stock and HOMEMADE pasta sauce.  Please don’t go out and buy pasta sauce for this recipe, it works just fine with 2 tbs tomato paste and 2 cups of water.  If you have pasta sauce, it just adds to your “depth of flavor.”  (I just love talking like a foodie!)
  7. Chop up your olives and throw them in the pot.Image
  8. Now comes the saffron.  In the picture, you will see that I have a teaspoon.  This is because it was a low grade bargain basement saffron in a test pot.  When I am making this for real, I use superior grade Spanish saffron and it only requires a pinch.Image
  9. Rinse the rice and add to the pot.  Next, nestle the chicken into the rice and broth, making sure to include any of the juices that accumulate in the plate.  At this point, you can slice your roasted pepper and throw it on top.  Cover and place in the oven for about 30 – 45 minutes.Image
  10. This is mmm mmm goodness!Image

Served up with yellow string beans from a local farm. Image


  1. Very nice!

  2. Angelica · · Reply

    I will try your recipe

    1. Let me know how it comes out.

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