the south american back story:my husband and i lived in south america for five years. we had our three oldest kids while we were living abroad and there were many, many things we loved about our time there. it is a treasured time in our lives.
while there, we had a housekeeper that came and helped us each day. before you pictures scenes from "the help," it is actually very much a part of the culture where we lived and it is seen as disrespectful *not* to hire someone when you are able to employ a person and help them financially. it was from one of these amazing domesticas that we learned the recipe below. it's full of butter, butter and more butter but that is what makes it absolutely delicious. it's a one dish meal and it makes everyone in my family happy around the table. we serve it with a salad and call it done for the night. it is, ironically, called arroz cubano (cuban rice) though it was made by a colombian woman to a fun loving group of americans. it manages to bring back delicious memories of a time gone by.
arroz cubano (cuban rice):
1/2 cup butter
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced thinly
1 large white onion, sliced (or one bag of chopped frozen onions)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 large boneless/skinless chicken breasts
5 cups chicken stock (or 5 cups of water with 5 chicken bouillon cubes)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 cups rice
1 cup raisins
1 cup butter
2 cups parmesan cheese
place the chicken breasts, chicken stock or water with bouillon, garlic and worcestershire sauce in a large pot and bring to a boil. boil over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. remove from heat.
while the chicken is cooking, place the raisins and 1 cup of butter in a large sauce pan. sauté on medium-low heat until the raisins plump up and the butter turns a nice golden brown. do not attempt to cook the raisins on high heat as they will develop a very bitter flavor. add the rice to this mixture and continue to cook until the rice is golden brown as well.
after the rice has browned, add four cups of the chicken stock/seasoned water to the rice mixture. there will be garlic pieces mixed in with the water and that is perfect. stir in the rice mixture and reduce the heat to low. cook uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed.
remove the chicken from the remaining water mixture but do not discard the water/stock. place the chicken on a cutting board and shred or chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
in a deep skillet, sauté the bell peppers, onions and mushrooms in 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. cook until the onions are translucent and all the vegetables are tender. remove from heat and add the chicken to the vegetable mixture and mix well.
spray an extra large casserole dish with non-stick spray. layer half of the rice, half of the chicken and vegetables mixture, and half of the cheese in the bottom of the dish. repeat the layers and top with the remaining cheese. bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.