I love one-pot meals. Not only because there’s only one pot to wash, but mostly because there’s something so convivial and comforting about a meal that’s prepared in — and shared from — the same receptacle. Special Snowflakes be warned: here we all eat (from) the same dish. It’s the Mediterranean way.
The Instant Pot makes one-pot cooking even easier than cooking a meal on the stove top. Not only does it reduce conventional cooking times by half (or more); it also preserves nutrient value better than any other cooking method (because of the brief cooking time). If you don’t have an Instant Pot, though, you can easily make this dish on a stovetop — it’ll just take a little longer (about 25 minutes’ cooking time).
This Cuban classic, which echoes Spain’s classic paella, is popular throughout Latin America. Its more common name is arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and more often than not it’s dominated by the cheaper ingredient, rice, with chicken playing a tasty but minor supporting role, and vegetables being largely absent.
Here we boost the dish’s nutritional value by reducing using very little rice and increasing vegetable and chicken content. That way, your eyes and brain think: “Oooh, I’m eating rice! Love those carbs!” but your body registers: “Yum, I’m getting lots of protein, fat and vegetables.”
You may wonder why I’m recommending Uncle Ben’s parboiled rice (also known as converted rice); isn’t that the sort of processed grain I usually rail against?
Actually, no. The parboiling process (described here) not only increases the nutrient content in the grain, but also makes it less glycemic (likely to spike your blood sugar levels). According to various sources, including this one, parboiled rice has a glycemic index score of 38, compared with scores in the 60s to high 80s for most types of white rice. Lastly, parboiled rice is rich in so-called resistant starch, a type of prebiotic that our gut bacteria love.
Pollo con arroz
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 slices bacon coarsely chopped/cubed
- 1.25 lbs chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 3 bell peppers different colors, cored and de-seeded and cut into small, bite-sized strips
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp smoked paprika powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3/4 cup chicken bone broth
- 1/3 cup Uncle Ben's parboiled rice
- 1 tsp salt freshly ground black pepper
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- ½ cup mixed olives pitted & sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- Set InstantPot saute function to HIGH, warm the olive oil and cook the bacon and onion, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent (about 6-8 minutes). Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over the onions to draw out their juice; this prevents burning.
- Add chicken pieces and saute, stirring frequently, until cooked all around -- about 3-4 minutes.
- Now add garlic and peppers to the onion-chicken mixture and cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. With a cooking spoon, scrape off any bits of meat that may have attached to the bottom of the pot.
- Add bay leaf, paprika, cumin, oregano, rice, tomato paste and stock, and stir gently until all the rice grains are covered in the liquid.
- Cover and lock the lid. Press cancel, then set to HIGH PRESSURE for 4 minutes. As soon as the cooking time ends, shift the steam-release valve to to VENTING and let out all the pressure.
- Stir in the frozen peas, olives and parsley, peas. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice, stirring gently to combine all the flavors. Can be served immediately, but tastes even better after a night in the refrigerator.