Northwestern Washington gets no respect when it comes to weather—the assumption is that it just rains all the time. In Houston, Atlanta, Tallahassee, and Phoenix, they snicker when they hear that our Cooling Centers open during an 85° “heat wave.” Well, we have some weather to talk about this week—one weather forecast calls for 8” of snow by Sunday!
In the Midwest where I grew up, snow season started in October and could last through April, the ground frozen hard with miles of slumped over cornfields and steaming cows huddled together at the hay bales. In 2010, we spent a winter on a job in Duluth Minnesota living in a condominium that looked out on Lake Superior. Every morning when we pulled up the shades, a new and stark ice scene appeared. The lake gradually froze, container barges stopped passing by, and a thick sea fog drifted over the ice.
As my Mom (and probably yours too) used to say, “Sure, it’s all grins and giggles until someone gets hurt.” Ice fishing is a bracing adventure as long as the ice part is there. But eventually, and sometimes without warning, the thick ice cracks apart, separating one ice guy from his people, sending him adrift into the endless Lake Superior.
That exact mishap occurred while we were in Duluth. A grandfather and his grandson were cozied into their winter fishing shanty, when their 15 square feet of ice started to crack. Grandpa, a veteran of the sport, tossed the truck keys to the thirteen year old and yelled, “Drive in as fast as you can go, I’ll be right behind you!” Luckily Grandpa had been secretly teaching grandson how to drive, so grandson got to the banks of the lake—only to see Grandpa slowly disappearing into the ice fog. Twelve hours later, a helicopter rescue crew lifted a cold, slightly blue Grandpa up off the ice floe, into the warm copter, then down on steady ground to his waiting family.
I made this recipe the other night—delicious. The rice is so tasty and the sauce is to die for, next time I’ll make more sauce—Sweetie and I ate all four portions. I might also use chicken breasts instead of thighs.
Arroz con pollo
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 Poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup mayonnaise
3 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons), plus lemon wedges for serving
Salt and pepper
Chicken and rice:
4 bone in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Sazón* (Mexican spice blend)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 bay leaves
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
*Sazón is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking usually found found in the Mexican spice rack in most supermarkets. If you can’t find Sazón, use this spice combination: 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Sofrito: Process cilantro, 1/2 cup onion, Poblano pepper, garlic, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer sofrito to bowl.
Sauce: Process mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sofrito in now-empty processor until almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mayonnaise-herb sauce to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Chicken and rice: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to pot skin side down and cook without moving it until skin is crispy and golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; discard skin.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.
Stir in broth, olives, capers, bay leaves, remaining sofrito, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to vigorous simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes.
Transfer pot to wire rack and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and stir in peas, if using. Discard bay leaves. Serve with mayonnaise-herb sauce and lemon wedges.