PUERTO RICAN CHICKEN & RICE – Salty, tangy, savory, spicy, and a little out of this planet, or at the very least this country!
PUERTO RICAN CHICKEN & RICE
— 2 Cubanelle (or Banana) peppers, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
— 1 large white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
— 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
— 3 cups packed cilantro sprigs, plus more for serving (from 1 large bunch)
— 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
— Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
— 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
— One tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
— 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
— 1 3/4 cups medium-grain white rice
— One can (15 ounces (ca. 567 g)) pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
— 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
— 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
— 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
— 2/3 cup pimiento-stuffed olives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon oil in the bowl of a food processor. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste. Purée until completely smooth.
Combine coriander, chili powder, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Dry the chicken and season it with the spice mixture all over.
In a large, straight-sided ovenproof skillet or braiser pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes, in a single layer, skin-side down. Place on a plate to cool.
Cook rice, tossing periodically, until it is nutty-smelling and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cilantro mixture is mostly absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the broth, 1 cup water, bay leaf, and peas. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin-sides up, with any accumulated juices in a single layer. Bring the water to a boil.
Cover and place in the oven with capers and olives scattered on top. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a thermometer put into the thickest part of the chicken (near but not touching bones) registers 165 degrees.
PLATING AND PRESENTATION:
Serve with a loaf of crusty French bread and extra cilantro on top.