2/17/2022 | By Diane Rossen Worthington

We have been experiencing frigid nights in Los Angeles, which is unusual weather for our mild climate. The other night, I pulled out some recipes from an old folder and found arroz con pollo – chicken with rice – a time-tested staple from a time when our daughter was young. It had all the characteristics for casual cold weather fare: creamy and comforting. And it’s a big hit for little ones as well as adults. And did I mention how Seriously Simple it is to put together?

“The poor man’s paella” and “a Mexican party dish with a Spanish ancestry” are just two descriptions given to this homey one-dish rice main course. According to Jacqueline Higuera McMahan, author of “California Rancho Cooking,” arroz con pollo was served at large parties on the California ranches when it was not possible to barbecue outdoors.

I like to add fresh mint leaves to lightly infuse the rice lightly and punch up the flavor. Traditionally arroz con pollo is served “as is,” but I prefer it with salsa and a dollop of sour cream. For extra spice, add some smoked paprika in Step 4.

Make your own salsa or purchase a fresh store-bought variety that is as spicy as you like. A romaine and avocado salad would be a lovely first course. For dessert, fresh berries with sweet fruit yogurt toping would be a satisfying ending. What to drink? A bright, well-oaked chardonnay is the answer to this earthy dish.

Arroz con Pollo

Serves 4


  • 1 large whole chicken breast, skinned and boned
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large fresh mint sprigs
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup frozen tiny peas, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

To garnish:

  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup spicy green or tomato salsa (fresh or store-bought)


  1. Place the chicken breast in a 2-quart saucepan and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Reserve the chicken and the stock.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly soft. Turn up the heat to high and add the rice and carrots. Brown them for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the reserved stock and lemon juice to the rice, stir with a fork and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Add the reserved chicken, mint and red pepper; cover and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the rice is almost cooked. Add the peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking and continue simmering until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Add the salt and pepper, and taste for seasoning.
  5. Remove the mint and spoon the rice into a serving dish. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve the sour cream and salsa on the side.

Advance preparation: This version of arroz con pollo can be prepared up to two hours ahead through Step 4 and reheated gently.

Related: More comforting cold weather fare – the warm familiarity of tuna melt and colorful four-vegetable soup

© 2022 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Diane Rossen Worthington

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at