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Arroz con pollo (Chicken with rice)

(food styling/lisa falso; Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / March 25, 2009

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Serves 4

In some Spanish-speaking countries, chicken and rice are cooked together. In this Dominican version, the chicken and rice cook separately. This careful preparation is meant to show respect and affection for guests, says Boston resident Maria Chavez, owner of Roman Coiffeur in Brookline. At the end of cooking, the bird and rice are mixed together. When chicken and rice are cooked together in one pot, says Chavez, Dominicans call the dish locrio and it's for the daily table; it's not considered special enough for guests. This dish is just the right balance of hot, sweet, and aromatic.

SHERYL JULIAN

CHICKEN

1chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
2cloves garlic, crushed
2onions, chopped
2stalks celery, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1red or green chili pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1teaspoon dried oregano
1teaspoon salt
2tablespoons canola oil
2tablespoons dark brown sugar
1can (16 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl

1. In a large bowl, layer the chicken pieces with the garlic, onions, celery, lemon juice, chili pepper, oregano, and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the sugar. When the sugar melts - watch it carefully so it does not burn - use tongs to lift the chicken from the marinade (leave the vegetables in the bowl). Brown the chicken well on all sides; remove it from the pan.

3. Add the vegetables from the marinade. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and return the chicken to the pan. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until it is cooked through. While it cooks, make the rice.

RICE

3cups water
1teaspoon salt
1 1/2cups long-grain white rice
1. In a large flameproof casserole (large enough to hold the chicken later), bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the rice, stir well, and when the mixture returns to a boil, turn the heat down, cover, and simmer without stirring for 17 minutes or until the rice absorbs the water and the grains are tender.

2. Add the chicken and its cooking liquid to the rice. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

Note: To prepare the dish in advance, cook the chicken and rice separately. Reheat them together in the same pot until hot throughout. Adapted from Maria Chavez