This Latin-style chicken and rice is comfort food at its finest. I chose to use a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, which essentially means it will be fool proof and delicious. It may not be the quickest or easiest dish to make, but it is certainly worth the time and effort it takes to prepare. I find that my time spent in the kitchen is therapeutic for me. Whether I’m chopping vegetables, standing over the stove, or measuring ingredients, my mind quiets and I’m happily and easily in the moment. (This euphoric feeling does not apply to washing dishes). Even though I have only myself and my husband to feed, I made the full recipe. I wanted us to have the kind of lunch leftovers that you start daydreaming about even though you’ve only just finished breakfast. This meal tastes even better the next day. A few tips- It is important to remove excess fat from the chicken thighs and trim the skin to keep this dish from becoming greasy (eww). If you want to use long grain rice increase the water to 3/4 cup in the 3rd step.
adapted from: The Best International Recipe
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
5 teaspoons white wine vinegar or distilled white
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
6 large or 8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 small bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste, I always add way more than recipes call for!)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock (more might be needed)
8 oz tomato sauce (I used Rao’s marinara)
1/4 cup water
3 cups medium-grain rice (I use Matiz bomba rice)
1/2 cup green olives (Manzanilla or Castelvetrano), pitted and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
1/2 cup jarred whole pimientos, drained and cut into strips
1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the garlic, 3 teaspoons of the vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and oregano in a large bowl. Add the chicken, coat it evenly with the marinade, and set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the cilantro.
Push the vegetables to the sides of the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the chicken to the center of the pot, skin side down. Cook until the outer layer of meat becomes opaque, 2 to 4 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the chicken begins to brown. Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the rice, olives, capers if using, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the thickest part of the chicken registers 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. If after 20 minutes of cooking the rice appears dry and the bottom of the pot begins to scorch, stir in 1/4 cup of water or broth. The same goes for rice that isn’t quite done, add additional water or broth and continue to cook until rice has reached desired consistency. ( I added quite a few glugs of broth, and the rice took about 40 minutes or so.)
Transfer the chicken to a plate and set the Dutch oven aside, covered. Pull the meat off the bones into large chucnks using 2 spoons (or use your hands if your hands are “kitchen numb” and can handle the heat), discarding the skin and bones. Place the chicken in a large bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro, and the pimientos. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the chicken on top of the rice, cover, and let stand until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges.