I subscribe to just about all of the "better" cooking magazines, and I catch a lot of flak over at CooksTalk because I cut up every one of them and file my favorite recipes in an accordian-style folder divided into categories. (The CooksTalkers consider it near-blasphemy to take a pair of scissors to an issue of Fine Cooking.) If I didn't, I know I would never consult all the mountains of magazines that I'd have all over the place. I have enough trouble remembering which of my cookbooks have recipes I've enjoyed or have been meaning to try.
The exception to all of this is Cook's Illustrated. Rather than receive the bimonthly magazines, I get the annual edition (containing every issue all bound together in book form) at the end of each year. I don't like to cut up CI because there's no ads, so you invariably end up cutting up other recipes; plus, there are interesting articles about technique that I like to keep. (Not that I consult them much, but still.)
Anyhow, my 2006 bound annual arrived recently, and the first recipe I tried was this one. I've made lots of different variations of arroz con pollo over the years, but this one is by far the best. The rice is almost as good as paella rice—I even got a little soccarat going on the bottom. Oh, and for the record, this version is a variation on the original recipe, which had no bacon or paprika or red peppers but did call for oregano, olives, and cilantro; I prefer these flavors. It looks really long and complicated, but we did the whole thing in just over an hour. Man, is it ever good.
Latino-Style Chicken and Rice with Bacon and Roasted Peppers
6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 Tbsp)
1¾ tsp salt, divided use
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp sherry vinegar, divided use
½ tsp black pepper
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (3–4 pounds), trimmed of all fat and any excess skin flaps (This is important, or else the whole dish will be greasy!)
4 strips thick smoky bacon, cut into ½” pieces
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 small red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, chopped fine
¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves, divided use
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup water
3 cups Goya (or other Hispanic brand) medium-grain rice (Italian and Japanese brands will make the dish too sticky. To use long-grain rice, increase the water to ¾ cup—but don’t expect the final product to have the proper consistency!)
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup roasted red peppers from a jar, cut into 2x¼" strips
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°. Place garlic and 1 tsp salt in large bowl; using rubber spatula, mix to make smooth paste. Add paprika, 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar, and black pepper to garlic-salt mixture; stir to combine. Place chicken in bowl with marinade. Coat chicken pieces evenly with marinade; set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Fry bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 6–8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to power-towel-lined plate; pour off all but 1 Tbsp bacon fat. Add onion, red bell pepper, carrot, and pepper flakes to bacon fat; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, 4–8 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp parsley; stir to combine. Push vegetables to sides of pot and increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to clearing in center of pot, skin side down, in even layer. Cook, without moving chicken, until outer layer of meat becomes opaque, 2–4 minutes. (If chicken begins to brown, reduce heat to medium). Using tongs, flip chicken and cook on second side until opaque, 2–4 minutes more. Add tomato sauce, broth, and water; stir gently to combine. Bring to simmer; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add rice and ¾ tsp salt; stir well. Bring to simmer, cover, and place pot in oven. After 10 minutes, remove pot from oven and gently stir chicken and rice once from bottom up. After another 10 minutes, stir once more, adding another ¼ cup water if rice appears dry and bottom of pot is beginning to burn. Cover and return pot to oven; cook until rice has absorbed all liquid and is tender but still holds its shape and chicken is done, about 10 minutes longer.
4. Using tongs, remove chicken from pot; replace lid and set pot aside. Remove and discard chicken skin; using 2 spoons, pull meat off bones into large chunks. Using fingers, remove remaining fat or dark veins from chicken pieces. Place chicken in large bowl and toss with olive oil, remaining 2 tsp sherry vinegar, remaining 2 Tbsp parsley, and roasted red peppers; season with salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken on top of rice, cover, and let stand until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Garnish chicken and rice with reserved bacon. Serve.