Monday, June 7, 2010

Arroz con Pollo & Blogger Get Together

Wow! What a dinner and what a weekend. I'll start with the weekend first.

Saturday, we had a fantastic time at a blogger get together at Larry & Bev's home, also known as "Almost Heaven". Having been there, I can attest to the fact, it is truly, "Almost Heaven". Their home is tucked away on a quiet inlet on a reservoir in the Smoky Mountain foothills. See that cute little dock in the middle?

It's not so little. It's more of a party barge than a dock. It seats 25, has a fridge, sink and tons of counter space and we had so much fun, food, and friendship. It was wonderful getting to spend the day with our magnanimous hosts, Larry and Beverly of Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings, Sam and Meakin of My Carolina Kitchen, Katherine and AJ of Smoky Mountain Cafe, and six assorted kids.

The food was excellent, as expected, but we could have all made great food at home. The memories I will cherish was the fun we all had together. I could go on for hours and still not capture the socializing & hilarity that went on. You know all of those people that got to go to Camp Blogaway last month? I no longer envy them!

I didn't do a great job remembering to take pictures but my 3 favorite pics are of the kids after they had been in the water for about 5 hours at this point. These were taken within 60 seconds of each other.

Thank goodness Katherine's daughter Lauren had a boat license.

She could transform this....

Into this, with a twist of a jet ski throttle!

It was a small event but I would not trade it for the world. I can not WAIT until we get together again. Our club house and pool will have a tough act to follow whenever Alexis and I host one of these! Larry, can you fit your jet ski or your boat in a 6' deep pool?

Now on to tonight's dinner. It was awesome too and even Brett's picky eater girlfriend loved it.

Arroz con Pollo
Source: Adapted by Nibble Me This from Joy Of Cooking (97 version)

1 whole chicken, cut into wings, thighs, legs, and boneless breasts
2 Tbs poultry seasoning (click for the recipe I use)
1 Tbs black pepper, ground
1 ea yellow onion, half of it diced, half of it sliced
1 ea green bell pepper, half of it diced, half of it sliced
1 ea Anaheim pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
4 oz smoke ham, diced
2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tbs paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 can diced tomato, drained (didn't have any fresh)
1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen thawed)
1/3 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
1/3 cup brine cured olives, pitted and chopped (These applewood smoked ones are AMAZING)

Preheat a cast iron skillet direct heat over at 350f fire. (That would be medium high on a stove top.)

Season the chicken pieces with the poultry rub and pepper. You could just use salt and pepper but I like the extra layering of flavor.

Add about 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease or butter to the skillet and then brown the chicken pieces on all sides, which should take about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate and reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the pan drippings in the skillet.

Add the peppers, onions, whole garlic cloves, and ham to the skillet and saute about 5 minutes. The reason I slice some and dice some of the pepper and onions instead of just dicing it all is that I like how the longer pieces look in the final dish. I do the whole cloves of garlic because diced garlic would burn during this stage but I want the flavor in there.

Add the rice to the veggie mixture and stir, tossing until the rice is well coated. Saute for 1-2 minutes until rice gives off a nutty aroma and starts to brown. Stir in the minced garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Add the stock, tomatoes, and oregano, stirring with a wooden spoon to deglaze all the goodies from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the the skillet, cover, reduce heat to 275f to 300f (medium on stove top), and let simmer for 20 minutes. I was having a little of a hot spot in the back of my Egg last night so I turned the skillet a quarter turn every 5 minutes or so.
I had a bit of a time trying to get the Egg back down to 275f but it seemed okay at 300f.

After the 20 minutes, I stirred in the olives, red pepper, and peas. I covered it and cooked another 5 minutes, just to heat through.

Remove and serve family style.Did this dish gain anything from being cooked by live fire on the Big Green Egg versus on a stove top? Not really, but there were some advantages for me:
  1. I didn't heat the kitchen up.
  2. I got to enjoy the sun going down as I cooked.
  3. When the dish was done, I thought the chicken needed a touch more color so I grilled it for about 60 seconds and put it back in the skillet.
  4. I got to play with fire!