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 South 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, vegetables and fiber.”
You may wonder why I’m recommending Ben’s Original 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 of 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 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 (Instant Pot)
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 oz Spanish chorizo finely chopped (optional); Spanish chorizo can be found in the deli/charcuterie section of most good supermarkets or online, for instance, here.
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic minced (4-5 cloves)
- 1¼ lb chicken thigh skinless, boneless, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3 medium bell peppers roughly diced (I usually get a red, a yellow and a green one)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken bone broth
- ½ cup parboiled rice I use Ben's original
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper freshly grounsd
- ½ cup olives mixed -- pitted & sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup parsley coarsely chopped
- Set Instant Pot to SAUTE, HIGH. Warm the olive oil in the pot and cook the chorizo (if using), onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent (6-8 minutes). Sprinkle ½ 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 5 minutes.
- Now add the peppers to the onion-chicken mixture and cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. With a cooking spoon, scrape off any browned bits that may have attached to the bottom of the pot.
- Add bay leaves, 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 PRESSURE, HIGH for 4 minutes. As soon as the cooking time ends, shift the steam-release valve to to VENTING and let out all the pressure. (Cover the pressure valve with a kitchen towel so the steam doesn't get all over your kitchen.)
- Stir in the frozen peas, olives and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice, stirring gently to combine all the flavors. Can be served immediately, but tastes even better warmed up after a night in the refrigerator.