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Chicken, rice with Puerto Rican flair

The Baltimore Sun

The secret to Puerto Rican cuisine is the distinctive sofrito. The Puerto Rican version is made with culantro (saw-leaf coriander, a relative of cilantro) and ajies dulces, sweet cooking peppers. I adapted today's recipe from Joel Rodriguez, executive chef at San Juan's Ajili Mojili, celebrated for serving authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, "cocina criolla."

Puerto Rican-Style Chicken and Rice

Makes 2 servings

1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into cubes

4 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 small onion, peeled and quartered

1 small tomato, cored and cut into quarters

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish (divided use)

1/2 cubanelle pepper, seeded and cubed

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 bone-in, chicken-breast halves (about 1 pound total), skin removed

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

1/2 cup beer

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup sliced sweet pimentos

Place bell pepper, garlic, onion, tomato, 1/2 cup cilantro and cubanelle pepper in a blender or food processor; blend until mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and saute 1 minute. Add the beer, sofrito (vegetable mixture) and 1/2 cup water.

Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook 15 minutes. Do not let the liquid come to a boil. Add the peas and pimentos. Cook 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Per serving (does not include added salt): 587 calories, 10 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 96 milligrams cholesterol, 50 grams protein, 70 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 171 milligrams sodium

Recipe analysis provided by the Miami Herald.

Helpful hints

Cubanelle peppers are elongated and light green. They're similar to Anaheim peppers and are mildly hot.

White wine or chicken broth can be substituted for the beer.

To buy: 1 medium-size green bell pepper, 1 small tomato, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 cubanelle or other mild pepper, 2 (8-ounce) chicken breasts on the bone, 1 bottle beer, 1 small package frozen peas, 1 bottle sweet pimentos

Staples: garlic, onion, olive oil, long-grain white rice, salt, black peppercorns

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