arroz con pollo

when jason and i went to florida back in february for our last trip before the baby came, i asked around for the best places to eat in tampa. multiple people recommended columbia restaurant in ybor city, both for the food and the flamenco show they put on during dinner. we made our reservation and arrived shortly before the show started. to those who recommended it, you were completely right. the show was entertaining and relaxing and the food was amazing!

we started with their famous 1905 salad and lobster croquettes and jason had pork tenderloin. while the croquettes were really delicious, as was the tenderloin, the star of the meal was my arroz con pollo. the waiter lifted the lid off the huge pot of rice and chicken table side and i couldn't believe how unbelievably simple and delicious it was. needless to say, i've had dreams about that meal ever since.

while we were still in the restaurant, between flamenco acts, jason and i whispered across the table about the flavors and how to recreate it at home. while this isn't an exact replica - as hard as we all try, i don't think we can ever completely recreate restaurant dishes at home - it's a pretty darn good try. the flavors and the dish itself are incredibly simple, yet full of flavor. while it takes a bit of time to make, it's not complicated, like most dishes that take an hour to make, and totally worth every minute.

arroz con pollo
adapted from prevention rd
1 hour, serves 4 to 6

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces lager beer
3 2/1 cups chicken broth
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
3 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup frozen peas
  1. season the chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin. coat the bottom of a large dutch oven with oil and place over medium high heat. when hot, add the chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side, or until brown. remove chicken from the pan.
  2. add the onion and green pepper to the pan and cook until the onion is translucent. add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. add beer, chicken broth, cooked chicken, tomato sauce, bay leaf, oregano, and cumin. season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. add the rice, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. cover and cook about 30 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. add the frozen peas during the last five minutes of cooking. serve hot.

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