Arroz con pollo (chicken fried rice) is a typical party food in Panama. It is generally served for birthdays and holidays with ensalada de papas (pink potato salad). It is often cooked over a fagón (cookfire) in a large piala (round bottomed pot). There are as many ways to make this dish as there are women in Panama, so this is just a basic recipe.
Emberá children wait in line to get their Arroz con Pollo. Photo from Cooking in Panama
This is a huge batch, enough for a party.
Arroz Con Pollo
2 chicken breasts, with bone and skin
3 cups chicken stock or broth
4 culantro leaves (substitue cilantro if you can't find culantro)
1 little envelope of achiote (seeds that give a yellow color to food)
1 sweet red pepper diced
1 cup green peas
2 pounds rice dry
1 small jar of green olives
1 small jar of capers
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
4 bay leaves
salt to taste
vegetable oil for frying
2 tablespoons tomato paste
- In a large pot boil the water, chicken, achiote and half of the onion.
- Remove chicken when it is cooked through and the meat is not pink. Save the broth.
- Then tear the meat off the bones and into bits. Set the meat aside.
- Fry the rice in oil with the remainder of the onion, pepper, bay leaves and garlic. Then add the broth, adding additional water if there isn't enough to cover the rice by about an inch. Cover and cook until the rice is done.
- In another pot mix the chicken bits with the tomato paste, olives, capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover
- and cook over low heat to bring the flavors together. Add a little water if needed.
- To the rice add the chicken sauce and peas. Cover and cook 5 minutes to heat through.
I am working on writing up how to cook some of the classic Panamanian dishes. Food is very much a part of culture. If you want your own little slice of Panama try some of the recipes here Recipes from Panama.