Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) is the best example of the Chinese influence on Panamanian cooking. Basically, this is chicken fried rice with a Panamanian sofrito, capers and olives and carrots. This is a very different dish than the arroz con pollo I grew up with, which was a baked dish, with whole pieces of chicken and yellow-colored rice. This dish is spiked with soy sauce, and the rice and chicken are pre-cooked, coming together at the end with the pre-cooked sofrito. Originally, this dish was a way to use left over chicken and rice, but today families will gather on the weekend to cook this up from scratch, as the Grub Bogger did here. You’ll want to be careful that you don’t get too salty with your finished product, so rinse the capers and olives, and don’t salt the sofrito. You won’t need any salt for the chicken, because it will marinate in soy.
First, marinade some thighs and drumsticks in soy sauce, chopped onion and minced garlic for a couple of hours. I like to do this a zip lock bag, pressing out all the air, so the marinade really gets into the meat.
Then, bake in a 375 degree oven until cooked through and the skin has some nice brown color. Then shred the meat off the bone.
While you are baking the chicken, make some rice, but don’t cook it to the point where you are trying to get concolón (see Arroz con Concolón for rice instructions.)
Our sofrito here includes carrot, which is not a traditional element in Panamanian aromatics, and points once again to the Chinese influence in this dish. Saute this up while the chicken and rice are cooking with some garlic until sweated, and set aside.
Once everything is ready, heat up some oil in a pan, and add some rice, veggies, chicken and soy sauce, along with rinsed capers and pitted green olives (stuffed with pimentos, if you can.)
Cook over pretty high heat, and toss to combine. Then, lower the heat a little, and cover and cook for about two minutes. Repeat this process until you are out of components.