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Arroz con pollo rice dilemma

Hi all, I've tried making arroz con pollo via numerous recipes - Gourmet, Cook's Illustrated, a few online recipes - but no matter what technique I use, some of the rice always stays crunchy.

I've tried the covered dutch oven method, the "cartouche" (round piece of parchment paper cut to fit) in pot method, and several others. No matter what I do - how much liquid I add, how often (or not often) I mix the rice during cooking, I cannot seem to end up with all the rice at the proper texture. There's always that unpleasant crunch in some grains.

I have no problem making all kinds of plain rice, so this has been quite frustrating. I'd like to try it again tonight. Can anyone provide some tips, or a foolproof online recipe?

Thank you!

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  1. What kind of rice are you using? Different grains absorb different amounts of liquid. Your recipes might not be right for the type of rice. Just a thought.

    1. I had the same problem when learning to cook arroz blanco. I found that I had to be sure to saute all the rice evenly--the saute, as I understand it, changes the structure of the starch. It is much like parboiling potatoes before making French fries. Secondly, I found it helps to add HOT broth or water. I bring it to boiling before pouring it in. And soaking and draining the rice makes a difference, too. I've made arroz Mexicano with basmati, with American long-grain rice, with Jasmine rice (after rinsing well to remove starch) and with a japonica or medium rice like Calrose. All of them worked, though I like the flavor of the medium grain best. Finally, don't uncover the pot too soon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Father Kitchen

        I second his advice. I've made it many times using these methods and it comes out perfectly.

      2. Thank you so much for the tips - next time, I'll try sautéing first, using boiling broth, and soaking/draining. I've been using plain white long-grain rice. I'll try Calrose next time as well. Thanks again!

        1 Reply
        1. re: kpzoo

          Seconding Father Kitchen. I believe that medium-grain rice is preferred for this dish.

        2. Is it heresy to suggest a parboiled rice like Uncle Bens? I don't use it for anything else, but for Arroz Con Pollo it's perfect. The grains of rice remain separate and don't cook down to mush. Very forgiving of a range of liquid amounts - so you can get away with a more approximate type of recipe and it will still turn out well.

          By the way parboiled DOES NOT mean instant. It's a type of rice that has been somewhat steamed, which I think gelatinizes the starch on the outside of the grains and, for that matter, appears to drive some of the nutritional value deeper into the rice. This is a good thing. The texture of the cooked rice is very specific - separate, individual grains with no stickiness. Not good for everything, but perfect for some things.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            Nyleve, don't apologize for parboiled or "golden" rice. I use it because I can freeze the cooked rice and the grains stay separate. Very convenient to do a big rice-cooker full and freeze individual portions in plastic sandwich bags. This doesn't work with any other rice I have tried.

            1. re: Querencia

              Yeah - I was raised on Uncle Bens. But as an adult, I've learned to love different types of rice in different dishes. But the truth is that Uncle Bens (or the generic version of it) is absolutely perfect in certain recipes. Arroz con pollo is one of them. Nutritionally, it's probably better than most refined rice, but does have a strange texture, its true.

            2. re: Nyleve

              Nyleve is right. Par boiled rice far pre-dates Uncle Ben's and has long been eaten in Bangladesh and parts of India. Unhusked rice is parboiled and then dried again; and then milled. The process drives nutrients from the bran into the rice, resulting in a more nutritious product.

            3. Tyy letting it sit covered with a dishtowel after the rice has finished cooking.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                I've also done that technique with paella.

                1. re: lagatta

                  It is a must with Paella for the proper Rice texture .

                  1. re: chefj

                    Yes, absolutely. And impresses all hell out of the guests.

                    1. re: chefj

                      It might help achieve results you like but it's not "a must" at all that you cover your paella with a towel. I've never seen this done in Spain. If you've done a good job following the traditional techniques your rice should still have a bit of bite to it (of course every paella I've had in the US has featured overcooked rice so maybe it's a must for US-style paella.)

                      1. re: caganer

                        The resting should always done where ever you are including Spain.
                        Whether you cover with a towel or not may not be critical but the rest time is. I find that the Towel keeps ingredients on the top from drying out during the rest. It has nothing to do with the rice overcooking. That is a function of the Liquid:Rice:Heat balance.
                        You need to find better places to get Paella in the US. Mushy Rice is not "US-Style" it is badly made Paella