Arroz con Pollo with Salsa Verde

This is a solid 5 star recipe that I have been preparing for years! The first time I made it was in 2007 for my friend's dear mother who was battling cancer and did this ever wake up her appetite – she almost ate the whole thing by herself! It's that good.

Feel free to use whatever parts of the chicken you like best, bone in or not, skin on or not – a whole fryer cut up, or a few breasts and six thighs (boneless/skinless) like I did. I always have a tough time finding dried chorizo but a local butcher makes it fresh so I use that instead. Definitely make the salsa verde to garnish this dish, it's fresh, nutty, spicy hot and worth it! If you have whole almonds on hand it's easy to make your own blanched, roasted nuts (see instructions below). Serves 6 to 8 and is delicious hot or at room temperature and reheats well.

Recipe

8 to 10 pieces chicken
4 T. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 T. dried oregano
2 tsp. sweet paprika (I used a sweet smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. chorizo (if dried, cut in 1" pieces)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 c. long grain white rice
(1) 15-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with liquid
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. pimiento stuffed green olives (I used a 5.75 oz. jar manzanillo sliced olives with pimiento)

SALSA VERDE
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 c. blanched almonds, toasted
1/2 c. olive oil
1 lime, juiced

Rinse and dry the chicken with paper towels. In a large enough bowl to hold all the chicken mix 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne. Rub the chicken pieces with the spice paste and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a heavy, ovenproof casserole heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and fry the chorizo over medium heat until it is crispy and renders its fat. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Put the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes (you may have to do this in two batches); remove from pan and set aside. Saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper and bay leaves until the vegetables are very soft and almost dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice so the grains are well coated. Add the tomatoes and broth, season with salt and pepper. Return the chorizo and chicken to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and transfer pot to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done and the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Scatter the olives on top of the chicken and rice and serve with salsa verde.

SALSA VERDE:
Pulse all the ingredients (except olive oil) in a food processor. With machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil to form a loose paste.

BLANCHED, ROASTED ALMONDS:
Pre-heat oven to 325-degrees. Heat 2 cups water to boiling, remove from heat, and add whole almonds (make sure they're completely covered by the water). After 3 minutes remove almonds to a strainer and run under cold water to cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze between your thumb and forefinger and skins will slide right off. Spread nuts on an ungreased sheet pan and put in the oven for 20 minutes until lightly browned, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and cool before using.

– inspired by Tyler Florence, Food Network