Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice


This is one of my favourites. The colours are wonderful and, when you take it out of the oven, you just want to get stuck in. Scrumptious. Similar to Spanish paella, it is a dish that just looks after itself. Don’t be tempted to stir – just let the pot do the work on its own.


  • 175 g (6oz) basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
  • 8 chicken pieces (a mixture of thighs and drumsticks)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 allspice berries, crushed
  • tsp turmeric
  • 2 cm (¾ in) piece of root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 hot red chilli (ideally Scotch bonnet), sliced into thin rings (seeds left in)
  • 600 ml (1 pint) chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100 g ( oz) pitted green olives, ideally stuffed with pimento
  • lime wedges, to serve


  • Wash the rice in a large bowl, changing the water until it runs clear. Heat the oil in a casserole 30 cm/12 in. in diameter (if you don’t have one, use a heavy-based frying pan). Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the all-purpose seasoning and salt and pepper and brown them well on all sides (you don’t need to cook it through at this point). Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside. Add the onion, peppers and garlic to the same pan and saute over a medium heat until the peppers are softening. Add the allspice, turmeric, ginger and chilli and cook for a minute, stirring.
  • If you are using a casserole, reintroduce the chicken and continue to cook in this. If you are using a frying pan, transfer everything to an ovenproof dish, about 30 cm (12 in) in diameter; it must be big enough to accommodate all the chicken in a single layer.
  • Pour the rice all round the chicken, pour over the stock, add the thyme and bay leaves and season everything really well. If cooking on the hob, continue to simmer gently over a low heat for 40 minutes. If cooking in the oven, cook for 40 minutes at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. When it is cooked all the stock should be absorbed, the top golden and the chicken cooked through (pierce the thickest piece of chicken with a skewer – if the juices run clear, it is done; if not, give it another 5 minutes, then test again). You don’t need to stir the rice or cover it or do anything with the dish as it cooks.
  • Scatter on the olives about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Serve with wedges of lime for squeezing over.