Focus on preparation and results seldom disappoint #GoodFood

Tell me all about your faithful love come morning time,
    because I trust you.
Show me the way I should go,
    because I offer my life up to you.

Psalm 143:8
– Arroz con Pollo

For this week’s food focus I’m featuring a recipe I discovered while doing some research on chicken. Rebekah has always been a fan of dark meat, so I went searching for something creative that offered a little more of a “wow” factor than chicken thighs typically generate!

What I found was: “10 chicken thigh recipes for tender, juicy and forgiving mains” by Aaron Hutcherson. I then zeroed in on his “Cuban-Style Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo).”

It was a good call.

This was one of the few times in my life that following the instructions actually led to a result that looks just like the photograph in the article! At this point you can either jump ship and go to Hutcherson’s recipe in the Washington Post, or hang around here and let me share some thoughts of my own.

Regional Flavor at its Best:

Living around Tampa for 17 years gave me a deep appreciation for Cuban cooking. In fact, the hybrid Cuban/Spanish/American flavors of places like La Septima Cafe and The Columbia Restaurant remain some of my all time favorite foods.

So, in short, the writer had me at “Cuban-style.”

Recipes like this absolutely must begin with thorough preparation. It’s no good staring at an un-chopped onion, a whole bell pepper, and a cup full of olives that have yet to be sliced when it’s “Go time” and they need to be stirred in.

So Job One is dicing and chopping and measuring out, all in anticipation of doing everything else exactly correctly and at the right time.

– mixture before introducing the chicken thighs

Also, no substituting! So make sure you actually do have what is called for at hand, and that’s especially true things like cumin and saffron that carry unique regional nuances. Rebekah brought home some amazing saffron from her trip to the Middle East, and it makes all the difference.

Another important truth this experience reminded me of is that food preparation must never be rushed. When I have time on hand I enjoy the process much more, and the results are so much better.

Let’s talk it through:

  • I recommend getting the poultry into a good marinade right after lunch. Both to tenderize and infuse a base direction for flavor. This recipe calls for lime juice along with salt and pepper. No need to fill a bowl with the stuff just put the thighs and a little marinade in a ziplock plastic bag then squish it around every thirty minutes or so.
  • When it’s time to begin cooking, carefully prep the onion, bell pepper, garlic, olives, cumin, saffron threads, bay leaf, tomato sauce, beer, chicken broth, rice, olive oil etc.
  • It’s important to cook these thighs with the skin on. Begin, skin side down, by sautéing in a little olive oil. Get them golden and a little crispy, then flip. By the time they are cooked through the pan will have a mixture of rendered chicken fat and fond. Set the chicken aside and keep the fond as well as some of the fat.
  • Now add in the onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Then the sliced olives, the tomato sauce, and the bay leaf.
  • After a few minutes, stir in the beer, the broth, the rice, the salt, and the saffron threads. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
  • Place the chicken thighs in the mixture, cover loosely, then cook – really slowly – for 45 minutes. Let rest before serving.
  • I recommend a side of mixed vegetables and either a full-bodied red wine or sangria.


For me, this is a study in living well.

The care; the focus is on preparation; the “let’s not rush this” mantra; the celebration of unique and evocative flavors; the anticipation; the goodness; the serving one another.

– with my favorite iron skillet

I believe this stage of our life is all about moving away from the fast lane and into the unhurried rhythms of grace; I believe that celebrating subtlety of flavor, and embracing process as much as results, is a good rule to live by; I believe that this world is a profound gift and by enjoying life so much I am honoring my Creator.

I believe that – even in the kitchen – offering my best is a statement of faith – DEREK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s