Peruvian Chicken and Rice (aka arroz con pollo Peruvian) brings a little Peruvian soul to your table. This flavor-packed one pot meal features ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chile), and gets its signature green tint from an entire bunch of cilantro. With boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a healthy quantity of veggies, it’s a fantastic one pot meal!
Something I learned when I was very young: With cooking, it doesn’t matter where you are; you can always cook. You can end up in a small village in Peru where somebody’s cooking, take a spoon and taste it, and you might not be too sure what you’re eating, but you can taste the soul in the food. That’s what’s beautiful with food.~~ Daniel Boulud
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Peruvian Chicken and Rice
Peruvian cuisine is taking the global food scene by storm. Peruvian haute cuisine is showing up all over the U.S., Spain, London… just to name a few.
Far more exciting, though, is the fact that traditional Peruvian food is becoming more available in neighborhood restaurants, and home cooks are able to find many of the pantry staples required for cooking these wonderful dishes at home. This is a cuisine “whose time has come.”
This arroz con pollo Peruvian style is a great introduction to Peruvian cooking. Most non-Peruvian cooks are already familiar with cilantro (right?). The ají amarillo chile paste is likely to be the only unfamiliar ingredient, and it’s widely available (at least in the US).
Please keep in mind that it is not my aim to re-create “authentic” Peruvian recipes. I’ve spent extensive time Peru, I love the cuisine, and I want to bring approachable Peruvian-inspired recipes to non-native home cooks!
🌶 What is Ají Amarillo Chile?
What (if anything) do you know about Peruvian cuisine? I am still learning, but I would like to share my journey with you. I cannot begin to cover it with this post. Today, I’d like to focus on the ají amarillo chile. I once heard a Peruvian say “it tastes like sunshine.” The bright yellow-orange chile tastes quite different from a poblano or Hatch green chile.
While the chile can be quite hot, heat is secondary to a warm, fruity, comforting flavor. It’s ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine, and chances are that if you’ve had Peruvian food, you’ve tasted ají amarillo.
I love the simplicity of this dish. I keep a jar of ají amarillo paste in my refrigerator, and it’s on my well-stocked pantry checklist. Cilantro (important in so many cuisines) is widely available, as is cumin.
Other than the ají amarillo, this dish comes together with ingredients you are probably quite comfortable with and accustomed to using. Well, you may not be accustomed to cooking with beer. (I am 😉 ). If you prefer to keep it that way, feel free to substitute additional chicken broth. A traditional Peruvian arroz con pollo typically includes beer, and I like to use a black lager like Xingu.
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- olive or coconut oil
- chicken – I use chicken thighs for this one pot dish because they stay moist. Chicken breast tends to be dry. Either bone in or boneless chicken thighs are fine.
- ground cumin
- ají amarillo paste – I have looked at a lot of Peruvian style arroz con pollo recipes that leave out ají amarillo paste. No es bueno! Latin foods markets, and even some grocery stores carry it. You can also order ají amarillo paste online.
- dark beer – Xingu (dark lager) is my preference, but it can be hard to find. Any dark lager is an excellent substitute. If all else fails, Mexican Corona is fine. You want a lager that won’t mess with the flavor. You can also omit and replace the liquid with additional broth or stock.
- broth – Chicken broth is my preference, but vegetable broth, or water will be fine.
- carrots – I often substitute diced sweet potato.
- red bell pepper
- peas – I love fresh English peas in this dish, but frozen are just fine. If using fresh, add them with the rice.
- long grain rice – I use basmati for any recipes that require long grain rice, but you can use regular long grain rice, jasmine, etc.
- Make the cilantro slurry – A slurry of cilantro and broth gives the rice its wonderful flavor! Chop the ends of the cilantro off where the leaves start. Wash well, and pat dry. In a small processor or blender, pulse the cilantro with a bit of water. NOTE: This will take 1-2 tablespoons depending on how much cilantro you have. Combine with enough chicken broth to bring the total to the required ratio of rice to liquid. Mine is 1:2, so I use 2 cups of cilantro and broth.
- Sear the chicken – Sear the chicken in enough oil to coat the skillet. Cook in very hot oil until golden brown on each side; set it aside.
- Sauté the aromatics – Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, and ají amarillo paste. Sauté an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then de-glaze with beer to your (still) very hot skillet , scraping to loosen the browned bits. Reduce beer by about half.
- Simmer the chicken – Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the broth/cilantro mixture, and simmer 10 minutes covered. NOTE: This step gives the chicken thighs extra time to become tender without making the veggies mushy. If time is an issue, you can skip this step but the chicken will be less tender.
- Add the rice and vegetables. Stir to work the rice down into the liquid. Cover, and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cook until the rice is tender (about 20 minutes) and the liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with additional cilantro.
No. You can leave it out, and you will still have a delicious one-pot meal, but it won’t be Peruvian IMHO.
YES! This recipe can be increased with very good results. I’ve multiplied by 4. My recipe card will only do 3X. I’ve made it for 30 successfully.
The ají amarillo varies a bit in heat level, so you may wish to taste it before you get started. We love spicy food at Andersen casa, so we use the full 2 tablespoons of chile paste. You may want to start with less.
Traditionally, this dish will be served with Salsa Criolla. It really is a stand alone dish as well.
This dish pairs really well with Brazilian Xingu, or other dark lagered beer such as a doppelbock. It also pairs well with a full-bodied white wine such as a Rhône blend or Chardonnay.
My favorite long grain white rice is basmati. It is not a Peruvian rice. The ratio of rice to liquid for basmati is 1:2. Liquid ratio is important! Make adjustment if you are using a rice that has a different ratio.
I use this food chopper on small dice to prep my vegetables. Twenty minutes is sufficient to get them tender. If your hard vegetables (carrots or sweet potato) are a large dice, you may want to add them with the chicken and ahead of the rice.
🧂 Useful Stuff
- Incas Food Mixed Sampler – Ají amarillo, ají panca, huacatay, and ají rocoto
- Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet with Lid – 12″ pre-seasoned skillet with glass lid, handle cover, and scraper
- Authentic Royal Royal Basmati Rice – 15 pound bag of white basmati rice
Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊
Having made this arroz con pollo Peruano for 2 or as many as 30, I can truly say it’s a crowd-pleaser. In July, I made this fabulous dish for 30 as part of a Peruvian menu that included ají verde, fried yuca, and salsa criolla. We had 4 nights with outstanding meals from outstanding area cooks at our church St. John’s Episcopal. Some of our parishioners said my arroz con pollo ruined them for “regular arroz con pollo.”
I would love to hear your thoughts on this dish… Is it approachable, appealing, a dish you’ve had before, etc.!
Arroz con Pollo Peruvian Style
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- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil
- 4 boneless chicken thighs - 16-24 ounces, skinless chicken thighs (see notes)
- 1 small onion - chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic - about 3 cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-2 tablespoons aji amarillo - (see notes)
- 1 cup dark beer - (see notes) Xingu is perfect!
- 1 cup chicken broth or water
- 2 small carrots - small dice or grated
- 1 small red bell pepper - small dice
- 1 cup petite peas - frozen are fine
- 1 cup long grain rice - basmati, jasmine, etc.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper - (see notes)
- Chop the ends of the cilantro off where the leaves start. Wash well, and pat dry. In a small processor or blender, pulse the cilantro with a bit of water. Add enough chicken broth to the slurry to bring the total liquid to the required amount in your rice instructions (2 cups for basmati). Set aside.
- Sear the chicken in a bit of hot oil until golden brown; set it aside.
- Sauté the onion until translucent, then add the garlic, cumin, and ají amarillo paste. Sauté an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the beer to the very hot pan, scraping to loosen the browned bits. Reduce by about half.
- Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the broth-cilantro mixture. Simmer 10-15 minutes covered.
- Add the rice, vegetables, and salt and pepper. Stir to work the rice down into the liquid. Replace the cover, and cook on low heat until rice is done (20 minutes for basmati). Adjust seasoning, and garnish with additional cilantro. Fluff with a fork.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.