Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chicken and Rice, Family Circle February 1955

This recipe is called "Arroz Con Pollo" in the February 1955 issue of Family Circle.  It literally means "rice with chicken" in Spanish.  The popular dish is so much a part of the culture that most Latin countries have their own version.  Since this recipe is so Americanized I opted to just call it Chicken with Rice.  (Why switch the order?  There's clearly more chicken than rice in the recipe.  I assume the Latin versions have more rice as the traditional Latin diet is more grained based.  Here in America we're all about protein, aren't we?  Not sure that's a good thing.)

This dish takes a few steps (and a good can opener) but it's easy enough for a weeknight.  With a little planning I could do the bulk of the prep it in the afternoon and do the rest in between schlepping kids to and fro.  It was nice comfort food on a lazy Sunday.

Here is the original recipe.  It starts in the lower left column and continues on the upper right.

Here's what I did:
  • 1 Chicken, cut in 8 pieces
  • 2T Olive oil (Original recipe called for 1/4C.  2T is plenty.)
  • 1C Raw white rice
  • 1C Chopped onion
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-14.5oz Can of green beans
  • 2-14.5oz Cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1-6oz Can of chopped mushrooms (I didn't use the whole jar- aimed for 4 ounces)
  • 1-4oz Jar of diced pimientos (What are pimientos?  Click here to find out!  I know them from the pimiento cheese of my Texas childhood but had no idea they were actually peppers.  Go figure.)
  • 2T Dried parsley
  • 1.5t Salt (Or salt to taste.  It depends on how salty your canned veggies are.)
  • Dash of pepper
  • .5t Chicken bullion granules

Warm 1T olive oil in a large skillet over a medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and turn to brown on all sides.  Place the browned chicken in a large baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350.

Add the remaining 1T of olive oil to the skillet.  Add rice and sauté over a medium low heat scraping brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add onions and garlic.  Sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.

(Hold the phone!  This is where it gets really vintage...)

Drain liquid from the can of green beans into a measuring cup.  Add water to make 1 cup total.  Pour in skillet with rice mixture.

(...Explanation:  Reserving the water in canned veggies or the cooking water from steamed fresh veggies was just what people did as a matter of course back in the day.  Somewhere along the line we stopped saving this nutrient dense water to use in soups or other dishes and it just went down the drain.  When I read this in Michael Pollan's book Food Rules I promised to start a veggie water jar in the fridge.  Never happened.)

Stir into the skillet:  green beans, tomatoes with liquid, mushrooms with liquid, pimientos, parsley, salt, pepper and bullion granules.  Bring to a boil.  Spoon over the chicken in the baking dish.  Cover and bake for 50 minutes.  Uncover, dig out the chicken, rest it on top of the rice and bake for another 10 minutes.

Voila!  This is what you get:

Chicken, rice and veggies all in one dish.  How easy!  We had fruit on the table to round out the meal.

When I first saw this recipe I was concerned about all the canned veggies.  I mean fresh is best, right?  And then next comes frozen?  For goodness sake my mother was a back to the Earth hippie vegetarian in a housewife's clothing!  How can I make a meal based on canned vegetables?  Then I thought about what my doctor told me once.  When determining what is better nutritionally you have to look at the whole picture.  What else is available?  How much time do you have?  What do you like?  So if you're going to try to make this meal with fresh veggies (adding in time for the cleaning, trimming, chopping, and steaming) but end up with a house full of screaming hungry kids and a grumpy hubby who gives up and orders a pizza then the canned veggies are better.  My wise friend Janet agreed and I proceeded sans guilt.

The result-  I don't know if it was the extra salt and pepper I used before browning the chicken or my brilliant idea to add the chicken bullion granules but hubby said IT HAD FLAVOR!  (Cue the angels.)  The kids loved it too.  I cut the chicken off the bone for the bone phobic of my brood and they ate it right up.  I thought it was delicious.  The leftovers were yummy the next day and the rice didn't get mushy as I thought it might.  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

This is the beautiful Family Circle magazine cover.  I love it!

See George Washington?  Back then he didn't have to share his birthday by honoring all the presidents!  

I hope your family loves this dish as much as we did!



  1. "hubby said IT HAD FLAVOR! (Cue the angels.) " haha

    Looks really tasty! I love Spanish food, even Americanized.

  2. You read my mind about canned vegetables! Not sure about canned mushrooms, but will try the other veggies. Thanks for posting!

    1. Hi there! Thanks for commenting! Here's more of my opinion about canned veggies. I use them but with limits.

      After writing this post I was thinking about making the dish again swapping fresh mushrooms for the canned without sautéing first. It may work. The mushrooms would just get mushy, which is what the canned are anyway.


  3. I love rice. Arroz Con Pollo always reminds me of the I Love Lucy episode where Ricky talks about Arroz Con Pollo from back home. :) Thanks for the recipe, Sarah!

  4. Tee-hee, I had to crack a big smile when I read your turn "bone phobic". I have one of those in my house as well (who is typically also not fond of messy foods that need to be eaten with your fingers; a point which never phases me in the slightest so long as I've got ample napkins and aren't wear my best threads :)).

    This recipe sounds scrumptious and a bit akin to a more Mexican/TexMex take on Spanish rice (which is one of my favourite foods ever!). Definitely one to bookmark, thank you!

    And many thanks as well for your terrific comment on my childhood poodle skirt post. I think prairie skirts are fantastic, too. I think that style is destined to live on forever as well (in no small part thanks to the cult following that 1970s Gunne Sax prairie inspired styles have amassed). It's truly wonderful that you have some of your relatives antique and vintage treasures. I too would keep those 20s frocks even if they were slowly turning to dust. That dust is quite literally what history is made of and is always worth preserving.

    ♥ Jessica

  5. Thanks, Jessica. I hope you like the recipe! Now that you say it I think the recipe is a little Tex-Mex too. But back in 1955 it was probably a bit exotic.

    I wish I had kept the prairie skits my mother made!