The origin of the phrase a la Chorrera is debated by food scholars. Some believe that the name of this Cuban version of arroz con pollo refers to the chorrera, a lace collar worn by gentlemen in Spanish colonial times, while others trace the name to the nineteenth-century kitchens of the famous Chorrera del Vedado hotel. Early recipes included dry sherry or wine, but more modern versions call for beer. In Cuba today, it is easier and less expensive to buy chicken thighs and drumsticks than breasts, as dark meat is what is most often imported from the United States and other countries. Wherever it originated and whether you use sherry or beer or dark meat or white meat, this is a tasty and attractive-looking dish!
If the breast halves are large, cut them into two smaller pieces each. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow glass or earthenware baking dish. Using a garlic press and a fork or a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, and black pepper, if using, to a paste. Stir in the bitter orange juice and pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover and marinate the chicken, refrigerated, for 1 to 3 hours, turning the pieces occasionally.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the marinade. In a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken in batches, if necessary. Do not crowd the pan. Brown lightly on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken as it browns, and set aside. To the Dutch oven, add the onion, fresh bell pepper, and tomatoes and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine the reserved marinade, tomato paste, bijol, and broth and add to the sautéed vegetables. Return the chicken to the pot and add the bay leaf. Cover and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 40 minutes.
Stir in the rice and continue to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the rice is almost cooked and the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Stir in the beer and peas and continue to simmer until the rice is tender and the chicken is done, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary, discard the bay leaf, and serve garnished with the roasted pepper and parsley.
© 2006 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.