Latin Inspired

Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) serves 4

1 1/4 cup Valencia rice

4-6 legs or breasts of Chicken, shredded or on the bone.
1/2 Large Onion, roughly chopped
1/2 Green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 Red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced.
1/2 15 oz can petite cut tomatoes
3/4 cup of frozen peas and carrots
Good quality Olive oil, extra virgin if possible
3 3/4- 4 1/2 cups Chicken broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Parsley
Pinch of Saffron threads (optional)
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Annatto
Raisins, a handful (optional
6 Spanish Olives with pimiento (optional) Chopped fine or left whole

If using shredded chicken, cook chicken parts in simmering water until cooked, about 30 minutes. Take out chicken pieces and set aside. Shred the chicken when it is cool enough to touch. Save the broth to cook the rice in.
If using bone in chicken, brown the chicken pieces in a little olive oil then set aside. Don't worry about completely cooking them through, as they will cook in the rice and broth later on. Pour off the oil and then begin making the suffrito in the same pan.

In a large pan on medium heat, sauté onions until limp. Add Green bell pepper and about 2/3 of the red pepper slices. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and sauté just a minute, and then add the canned tomatoes, olives, raisins, the cumin, oregano and parsley, paprika, annatto, salt and pepper. This is called a suffrito and is the basis of many Latin dishes. Push the suffrito to one side of the pan and add a little more olive oil (about 1 Tbsp) Add the rice to the oil and sauté for about 2 minutes until all the rice is coated and a bit toasty. Mix the rice with the suffrito and add the broth. Stir and taste the broth. If it needs more salt add a little more. Add the chicken and mix into the rice mixture. Add the saffron threads. Let the rice simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Make sure the heat is not too high because it will burn the rice on the bottom. Add the peas and carrots and put the remaining red bell pepper strips decoratively across the top of the rice. Lower heat to med low and put a lid over the pan. Cook another 10-15 minutes. Test the rice to see if it's done. The rice should be soupy and not dry. Add more broth or water if it gets too dry.

Serve with fried plantains and a crisp garden salad of tomatoes, red onions, avocado, cucumber and lettuce with sherry vinegar vinaigrette.

PORK TACOS (serves 2-3 people - but can easily be doubled or tripled)

Shredded Pork

Bone in pork loin chops
Left over Mojo (see recipe on my previous post)
Apple cider vinegar - about a tablespoon for two huge pork chops
Dried thyme, parsley and oregano -about 1/2 teaspoon each
1/4 teaspoon ground Chipolte powder
Fresh ground Allspice- about 1/4 teaspoon
Salt and pepper

Mix the Mojo with the remaining ingredients. Marinate the pork chops in the Marinade all day or over night. Cook in a stove top skillet, browning lightly in a little olive oil. Remove and let cool to the touch. Shred the pork and add to the chipolte sauce (recipe follows). Use as a filling in tacos. I used store bought soft corn tortillas which I browned in a little olive oil. (You can also make homemade tortillas if you are ambitious- use Masa to make them.) Very spicy and delicious!

Chipolte Sauce

Canned fire roasted tomatoes - about 1/4 cup - chopped fine
About 2 tablespoons canned Chipolte in Adobe sauce - chopped fine
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
Olive oil for sauteing - about 1 teaspoon
Water - about 1/2  cup or so.
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Saute onion briefly in olive oil. Add tomatoes and chipolte in adobe sauce. Add a bit of water. Add shredded pork and stir to mix. Add enough water to sauce the meat lightly. The chipolte sauce is meant to season not drench the meat. Serve in corn tortillas, lightly browned in oil.

Shredded lettuce (I used Romaine)
Pico de Gallo (recipe follows)
Sour cream
Queso Blanco or Feta cheese, crumbled
Sauteed onions and peppers *

*( I sauteed a mixture of red and sweet onions, red and green bell peppers with a sliced garlic clove in olive oil with salt and pepper) Remove to a bowl and proceed with the pork chops in the same pan.

Pico de Gallo (Rooster's Beak)

Chopped red onion - 1/4 cup
Chopped plum or ripe and juicy tomato about 1/2 cup
1-3 Serrano peppers, seeded, deveined and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Lime juice, about 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
a drop of honey
Salt to taste - about 1/4 teaspoon

A drop of strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional) Brings out the tomato flavor.

Mince onions and set in bowl with lime juice and salt while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Add all the ingredients and mix. Let sit for the flavors to blend while you prepare the rest of the taco ingredients.

To make tacos, layer in this manner:
Shredded pork, sauteed onions and peppers, lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo, feta cheese or queso fresca. These are truly amazing tacos! Very authentic. You will never find anything like this in a restaurant or take out!