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Arroz con pollo rice dilemma

  • kpzoo Mar 14, 2009 01:20 PM

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: lagatta

                      You mean when you uncover it?

                      1. re: chefj

                        Yes, of course.

                    2. 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

                2. I know this isn't the right way, but I bake mine. I brown the chicken pieces then use the same skillet to saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms, then I put all of it in a big rectangular Pyrex dish with the raw washed rice, chicken stock, and saffron and add some olives and pieces of pimiento on top. I cover it tightly with foil and bake it until the rice is done and soft but the grains haven't split. You do have to check from time to time to make sure there's still enough liquid. It takes about an hour. Actually since it's in the oven and out of your life, more or less, it's a good thing to make for guests.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Querencia

                    Hiya, I've tried the oven-baked method several times and some of the rice always stays crunchy! Obviously I've been doing something wrong. Did you sauté the rice before putting it in the Pyrex dish?

                    1. re: kpzoo

                      Don't mention converted rice here, the food police will be alerted and will tell you how bad it is and it's like cardboard etc.

                      I think it's fine, but have been criticized for even suggesting it in jambalaya...

                      1. re: hankstramm

                        If the food police are out to get you, they are wrong. Parboiling or converting rice is actually a traditional method of preparing rice, used both in Africa and also in southern India. It involves boiling the rice in the husk so that the nutrients in the husk are driven into the grain. It has an added advantage in that the parboled rice is easier to husk by hand afterwards. The method was widely used in the U.S. south--though whether it was used in particular dishes is for the food historians to figure out. But given the fact that Uncle Ben's, one brand of parboiled rice, was the leading rice sold in the U.S. for decades, I can't believe that it hasn't extensively been used for jambalaya. Whether you like it or not is another question--similar to whether you prefer corn meal mush as in grits or polenta or cornmeal treated with lime as in hominy and masa. But there is no doubt as to which side of the argument the nutrition police would take. Fortunately, if you don't like parboiled rice but want the nutrition, there is the brown rice option. But then again would the food police come after you if you use that in jambalaya? :>)

                        1. re: Father Kitchen

                          Years later I've read this response. Thanks. I remember having "high holy" "foodies" criticize my use of converted rice in jambalaya. I still use it. They can kiss my grits...

                    2. re: Querencia

                      I'm making a dish very similar to this....essentially a baked paella. What type of rice should I use if I'm doing the oven-method described by Querencia? Medium grain? Arborio?

                      The recipe says to bake in the oven, along w/ various meats and other ingredients, for about 40-45 mins covered at 400 degrees, and then a bit longer uncovered after adding the shrimp. Using a dutch oven.

                      Thanks in advance, if anyone has any tips about rice type.

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        I do arroz con pollo and a version of baked paella, and for both, I use washed/soaked basmati. I've never had a problem with crunchy grains.

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          You can use any rice you like, it is the liquid to rice ratio that needs to be correct. When covered you use a traditional absorption method amount, if done open like a Paella you use more liquid.

                          1. re: chefj

                            Thanks all. We ended up using medium grain rice, and it worked very well. The rice came out on the moister side, though not quite as moist as risotto.

                            1. re: Dave MP

                              All the paella I have eaten in Spain typically used a short grain rice and was moist like a very stiff risotto. The rice somewhat sticks together and the crispier bits from the bottom are a delicacy, similar to the tah dig of Persian rice.

                      2. I recently made a recipe for arroz con pollo that I adapted from Penelope Casas' The Food and Wines of Spain. The rice turned out perfectly. I posted the recipe here: http://culinarystudio.blogspot.com/20...

                        1. The first couple of time I made it I had the opposite problem - soggy rice - I finally got that one licked.

                          I also brown the rice with the soffritto along with onions & sweet peppers.

                          I have found that letting it sit covered for about 10 minutes insures the rice is done properly. (have you seen the Arroyo's Con Pollo - Throwdown show)

                          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/th...

                          Also, I use Daisy Marteniz's method for adding the correct amount of water or stock - add stock to about one inch above the rice (she uses a spoon with a rubber band I use my finger - until roughly the first knuckle).

                          I love Arroy's con Pollo - I think it's one of the most difficult dishes to get right.

                          1. My "goof proof" method for making rice in the oven is to just use a clear glass baking dish that comes with a tight fitting lit. Equal parts rice and liquid. Throw it into an non-preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until you see all the liquid is gone. Then I take it out and fluff it, and if it seems like it needs to cook a bit more I put the lid back on immediately and let it rest for a few more minutes.

                            Personally though, I really prefer to use my electric food steamer to cook rice. It cooks rice perfectly evenly since it's indirect heat, no scorching at all. And it's very consistent. Once you find the right amount of time you like, you can make it the exact same way every time. As for ratios, I do the same thing, equal parts liquid to rice.