No denying it, arroz con pollo is the traditional Latino version of American comfort food. My first memories of this hearty, savory and definitive rice and chicken recipe go back to when I was dating my Puerto Rican husband. Pat would always take me to his aunt’s house in the late afternoon, where all the family would congregate. Driving up to Titi Rosa’s home, my husband would make me smile every time when he gave me a head count of who had gotten there before us, based on the cars he recognized in the driveway.
The minute we stepped into the kitchen, all was good in the world. It would take at least 15 minutes to hug everyone and share how your day went, and of course there was always a little chisme that had to go around. Titi would be standing over the stove with her long metal spoon, stirring something in her caserola that always smelled good.
There was a permanent pot of white rice at the back of the stove, and then of course in the pots and pans in front were either tostones, bistec, ropa vieja, habichuelas—you name it. But my favorite was when Titi made her arroz con pollo. You just knew that this dish was made with love. Her rice was perfect: never too wet and never too dry.
Titi never wrote down measurements or ingredients. It pretty much stayed in her head (and heart). She was a no-nonsense woman who stayed home her whole life to take care of her daughters, grandchildren, cousins. Titi is the heart of the family. ❤️
So when I wanted to write this recipe for arroz con pollo, I picked the brains of my husband’s family. They laughed and said, “You put a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and if you don’t have this, you use that!”
So, like any beloved family recipe, this arroz con pollo continues to evolve, and you somehow find a happy medium and call it your own. Throughout the years, this particular recipe has become my favorite. I make it for special occasions, when my family needs comfort food and when guests are coming over. It always gets eaten, it always looks pretty, and I always get compliments. I bow to you, Titi Rosa.
To try more of Michelle and her husband Pat’s family Boricua dishes, check out her recipe for double-fried-plantain tostones with garlicky mojo sauce; pastelón, the Puerto Rican lasagna; step-by-step guide to baking quesitos, and her Your Family’s Favorite Picadillo contest-winning recipe, which relies on classic Puerto Rican flavors like sofrito (yes, again. It really is used in everything). Michelle calls her picadillo recipe ”the Puerto Rican sloppy joe. We call it delicioso.