Fool-proof Recipe

3.6.10 § 5 Comments

I’m not going to go into detail here about my extremely long list of (mostly dumb) excuses for not writing since my first post.  (Ok, one of them is that I can’t find the charger for my camera battery, which is why there are no pictures to accompany this post.)  However, just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking and thinking about blogging…so there are some good posts coming soon.  But before we can get to those good posts, I have to tell you about last night and a recipe that is pretty much impossible to screw up.  Believe me, I tried.

This week I was even busier than usual and by yesterday (Friday), all I wanted to do after work was make a quick stop at the grocery store, go home, make myself dinner, and go through some cookbooks.  (I’m not quite sure what it says about me that this is what I look forward to on a Friday night, but believe me, I was excited.)  I had picked out a recipe for Arroz con pollo sent to me by my longtime friend and cooking inspiration, Ginnie.

It all started to go wrong at the grocery store.  I was sure this store carried the exact packet of red chile powder I wanted to use – it comes from New Mexico and has a picture of a sombrero and a Mexican blanket on the label – but I was wrong.  No chile powder.  I decided to just use the regular stuff I had at home and moved on.  I went to grab some Chorizo sausage and suddenly got very confused (I’m blaming this on my exhausting week).  Refrigerator section?  With the cured sausages?  I had no idea.  Instead of asking someone and because I don’t have an iPhone on which to do impromptu research, I resorted to using the “other savory sausage” the recipe said I could substitute and picked up spicy Italian sausage instead.  So not the same thing.  Whatever, I figured one small substitution would be no big deal.  *For reference, Chorizo comes both uncooked and cured.  The recipe didn’t specify, hence my confusion.*

Thankfully, the recipe also called for beer, so I had an excuse to stop at the bodega on the corner and grab a six-pack of Negro Modelo.  Let me say here that this is a dark beer, and while the recipe specifically calls for non-dark beer, I wanted to drink some Negro Modelo so I decided one more substitution wouldn’t hurt.

Standing in my kitchen, beer in hand, I reached for the distilled white vinegar in my cabinet to begin making the marinade.  Turns out I don’t have any.  While on the phone with my mom debating what kind of vinegar would be best as a substitute (I only have apple cider, red wine, and balsamic to choose from), Ginnie called.  Thank God.  My cooking inspiration calls to save the day.  After deciding to substitute apple cider vinegar, we chat happily for half an hour as I chop onions and bell peppers, still fairly confident in this dish.

Finally, cooking commences.  I reach for my chili powder.  It’s empty, so I throw in some cayenne instead.  Whatever, it’s hot.

At this point, I figure it would be pretty hard to make things any worse, and I completely stop measuring my ingredients.  Pouring in a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes instead of 14 oz, using a whole beer instead of half of one, and adding chicken broth to my heart’s content, I no longer care about the outcome.  I reach for another Negro and let it simmer.

To my surprise, it was delicious.  I can’t even imagine how good it might have been if I had made it correctly.

Try this one, it’s pretty hard to screw up.

Arroz con pollo (Chicken with rice)
adapted from Virginia Lee, who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from the now defunct Gourmet magazine *sniffle*

serves 4-6

Chicken
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red chile powder
4 chicken breast halves

Rice
3 oz chorizo (or other savory sausage), skin discarded and sausage crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
t tbsp paprika
1 tsp red chili powder (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes with liquid (or 28 oz if you love tomatoes)
½ of a 12 oz bottle of non-dark beer (or a whole bottle of dark beer if you’re feeling frisky)
1 cup chicken broth (or however much you want)
2 cups long-grain white rice

Marinate chicken: Mix garlic with 2 tsp salt, red chile, vinegar, and oregano in a bowl.  Trim chicken and cut into chunks, then toss with marinade until coated.  Let sit for about half an hour while you prep the veggies for the rice.

Rice: Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring until softened about 5 minutes.  Add cumin, oregano, paprika, 1 ¼ tsp salt, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes, beer, broth, and rice and bring to a boil, adding liquid if needed.  Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, until rice is almost tender.

Chicken/Sausage: In the meantime, saute the sausage in some olive oil and throw it in with the rice.  Cook the chicken the same way until almost cooked through.  When the rice is almost done, mix in the chicken and let it simmer for a few more minutes to finish cooking.

*Note:  After finishing this post I was starving and decided to heat up some of the leftovers.  The without-a-microwave method is to put it in a baking dish (I always use my 8×8 le creuset), cover it in aluminum foil, and put it in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.  It works really well and I swear, this dish tastes even better today…

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§ 5 Responses to Fool-proof Recipe

  • Tam Curtis says:

    Glad those subs worked out well for you. Sounds great. Just checked my pantry and think I can actually try it with the right ingreds. Will let you know!

  • Gin says:

    So glad you liked it! Also, you say such nice things – now you’re MY cooking inspiration!

    (For the record, I want you to know that I’ve read all your posts but I guess I was feeling shy with the comments until now. I promise to speak up more often.)

  • Shady says:

    I made this with my bf tonight, it was amazing! In addition to being a good excuse to buy a six-pack of Blue Moon 🙂

  • jdpence says:

    Tyla- so curious! What was the inspiration for starting your blog?

    • Tyla says:

      I took a food writing class my senior year at Duke and I fell in love with it. Starting a blog was the logical next step, but I just kept putting it off…until I went through a bad breakup and kind of had to reinvent myself. If you go to the “about” page, there is link to my first post…which kind of explains where I was at. I’m still kind of figuring it all out a year later…

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