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Titi Rosa’s Arroz con Pollo, Made With Love and Pegao

Michelle Ezratty Murphy arroz con pollo

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 saucepastelón, the Puerto Rican lasagnastep-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.

Here’s How Titi Rosa Makes Her Famous Arroz con Pollo!

Titi’s Arroz con Pollo, Made With Love and Pegao

5 from 5 votes
Recipe by Michelle Ezratty Murphy Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Servings

6 to 8

servings
Prep time

25

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

Ingredients

  • El Chicken Marinade
  • 8 8 chicken thighs, skin on

  • 2 Tbsp. 2 black pepper, crushed

  • 2 tsp. 2 oregano

  • 6 tsp. 6 kosher salt

  • 2 Tbsp. 2 olive oil

  • 1 1 lime, juice of

  • El Arroz Con Pollo
  • 12 oz. 12 salt pork, chopped into ½-inch squares

  • 1 1 large white onion, diced

  • 1 1 green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 1 1 tomato, diced

  • 4 cloves 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

  • 1 1 roasted red pepper

  • 1 bunch 1 cilantro, whole leaves picked from stems

  • 1/2 tsp. 1/2 kosher salt

  • 3 tsp. 3 olive oil

  • 15 15 Spanish olives, stuffed with pimento

  • 1 Tbsp. 1 small capers

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 tomato sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. 3 achiote oil

  • 2 tsp. 2 cumin, powdered

  • 3 cups 3 rice, medium grain

  • 3 cups 3 water

Directions

  • Wash and dry chicken thighs, set aside. Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. In a large glass dish, coat and massage the chicken well with the marinade ingredients, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, that has a tight fitting lid, on medium high heat, add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add salt pork to the pot and stir often, until the pork is crispy and the fat has rendered off. Lower heat if you find that the pork is starting to burn.
  • Into the cooked pork, lay in the chicken in and all the marinade from the dish, skin-side down. Sear for 8 minutes or until skin is crispy and browned. Turn chicken over for another 8 minutes.
  • Into the same pot, add the diced onions, tomatoes, red and green peppers, and garlic. Saute.
  • Once the onions are translucent, add the rice and stir to coat. Then pour in the water. Make sure that the liquid covers the chicken, plus 1 extra inch.
  • Add the cilantro leaves, olives, capers, roasted red peppers, tomato sauce, achiote oil, ½ teaspoon salt and cumin. Stir well to combine.
  • On medium high heat, bring the pot to a slow boil and allow some of the liquid to absorb into the rice (about 10 minutes) You are looking for there to still be liquid, but you will begin to see the rice expand. DO NOT STIR THE RICE.
  • Cover the pot, and bring the heat down to low. Simmer for another 40 minutes. Rice should be cooked and all the liquid absorbed. Turn off the heat and allow the arroz con pollo to steam with the lid on for at least 15 minutes, or until you are ready to serve. No peeking! By not lifting the lid, you are helping the dish form its golden-brown layer of pegao at the bottom of la olla. When ready to serve, dig deep to give your family and friends a spoonful or two of this crackly, caramelized, delicioso rice. You’ll see: everyone loves pegao.

Notes

  • If you can resist stirring the rice in the pot, and leave the lid on after you shut off the heat, you will create a layer of “pegao”—Puerto Rican slang for stuck—which forms on the bottom. This is the crispy, crackly, almost burnt rice that everyone begs for. Personally, it’s my favorite part of this dish.
  • If you don’t have achiote oil or feel like making it, substitute by mixing 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 packet of sazon with achiote.
Titi Rosa arroz con pollo
Titi Rosa—Rosa Casasnovas de Rivera, left, in the black shirt—with her family.
Watch Michelle Ezratty Murphy make her Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest-winning arroz con pollo!
Titi Rosa arroz con pollo
Rosa Casasnovas de Rivera, shown here with her grandson, Manuel, is family famous for this arroz con pollo, our first-ever Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest winner. Felicidades, Doña Rosa! Sin duda, este es el mejor arroz con pollo en la isla. 🌟

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Suggestions and questions from our readers

    1. Thank you! You will have to try and make it yourself! It’s a mix of Titi’s and Noemi’s recipes 🙂 xoxo