Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cubano Arroz con Pollo

Delicious, tender, juicy, mild and classic!  This fancy Cuban style Arroz con Pollo is superb!
     Stereotypical latino food to many people is food that is cooked with hot peppers and is spicy.  Much of Cuba's food is mild and savory.  Cuba is famous for seafood and comfort cuisine. 
     The seafood fishery regulations in Cuba are some of the strictest in the world.  Cuba will never have a problem with overfishing and sea life depletion.
     Chicken is popular in all of the caribbean islands.  There are great arroz con pollo recipes from Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands and Jamaica too.  Cuban arroz con pollo is a very popular entree in Miami Florida.  
     When I was in the transportation business in Florida, after I drove passengers to Miami from the gulf coast of Florida, I would stop to have a meal at a local Cuban restaurant in Miami.  The food was always a large portion, simple and well prepared for a very modest price.  Cuban Arroz con Pollo was my favorite item to order.  The atmosphere of Little Havana in Miami is like a foreign country to most people.  Little Havana is steamy humid hot, old fashioned, smells like Cuban cigars and there is some great Cuban food to be found there.
     This recipe is classically prepared with an old fashioned haute cuisine style presentation.  The chicken in the picture is a half of a chicken that has all the bones removed except for the upper wing drummette bone.  Slow roasting a chicken that is butchered and formed like this is a remarkable cooking method.  I once butchered 175 chickens that look like this one for a dinner party at a yacht club when I was a saute chef several years ago.  You need a very sharp boning knife or paring knife to prepare this style of boneless chicken.
     Chicken Preparation Recipe:  Cut both sides of a whole chicken's back bone through the thigh joints and remove the back bone and neck section. 
     Use a quick, forceful,  sharp stroke with the heel of a chef knife to split the breast bone. 
     Use your hands to crack the breast bone completely. 
     Slice the chicken in half. 
     Place the half of a chicken with the skin side down on a cutting board.
     Cut the skin of the leg completely around the ankle end of the leg bone. 
     Cut the wing off at the middle joint, while retaining the drummette part of the wing.
     For the rest of the deboning, you must take great care not to cut through the skin or poke holes in it.
     Feel for the thigh bone and leg bone with your fingers. 
     Make shallow slices against the bones, scraping the meat free from both sides of those bones. 
     Carefully slice through the joints. 
     Pull the leg and thigh bones up with your finger tips while slicing underneath to free the bones. 
     Pull the leg bone out. 
     Remove the main leg tendon. 
     Remove the thigh bone.
     Slice the meat free from the ribs, starting with scraping shallow slices against the side of the ribs that were attached to the back bone section to the breast bone.
     Continue to filet the breast meat till the rib cage is free from the meat but still attached to the upper wing drummette joint. 
     Slice through the upper drummette joint to free and remove the rib cage.  (Save the bones for soup stock for another recipe.)
     Do not remove the wing drummette bone.
     Drizzle olive oil on the meat side of the chicken. 
     Season the meat side of the chicken with a 2 to 3 pinches each of:   anatto, sea salt, coriander, black pepper and cumin.
     Fold the loose butt end of the chicken inward.
     Overlap the sides to form a cone shape with the wing drummette standing vertically at the top.
     Tie the cone shaped boneless half chicken with butchers string to retain the shape.  (Or place the chicken in a 5 inch wide, tall sided steel ring mold and use a thin bamboo skewer to pin the top of the cone shaped chicken together to retain its shape.  Remember to remove the skewer or butchers string after baking.)
     The half chicken should be round, wide at the bottom and it should narrow like a cone shap to the top where the drummette bone points vertically.
     Place the tied chicken (or the chicken in ring mold) on a roasting pan with the drummette pointing upwards.
     Slow roast the chicken in a 325 degree oven.
     Occasionally baste the chicken with its own juices.
     Roast the chicken for at least 30 minutes till the chicken is golden colored and fully cooked.
     Cuban Rice:  Boil 1/2 cups of water over high heat in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of long grain white rice.
     After the water starts to return to a boil, turn the heat to medium low.
     Add a small splash of olive oil.
     Add a 1/2 cup of chicken stock.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 2 pinches of ground anatto.
     Cubano Arroz Con Pollo Assembly:  Use a ring mold that is the same size as the base of the roasted chicken to place the rice on a plate. 
     Press the rice into the ring mold so it is firm.
     Remove the ring mold and gently set the roasted chicken on top of the rice.
     Serve with seasoned black beans with chopped onion on top.
     Serve with twice fried plantain slices.  (Fry the plantain slices golden, then flatten them with a spatula and then fry them a second time.)
     Serve with thick boiled and buttered yuca pieces that are seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.
     Serve with an olive oil brushed, oven roasted, whole cubanelle pepper.
     Garnish the drummette on the chicken with a paper chapeau.
     Elegant, fine Cuban Arroz con Pollo!  The chicken is so moist, tender and flavorful.  The seasonings flavor the chicken from the inside out.  The chicken tastes great with the rice.  The black beans are fantastic with the rice too.  Yuca is so mild in flavor.  When the roasted cubanelle pepper is cut open, the mild pepper juices flow on the plate for a fantastic flavor accent. 
     The chicken's seasoning mixture is similar to an asado seasoning spice mix.  It is worth the time it takes to prepare a half chicken like this one.  The eye appeal is nothing, when compared to the texture and flavor of this chicken!  This is a nice presentation of a simple classic Cuban recipe.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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