Every time I think about making a chicken dish, my preparations are interrupted by the view from my kitchen windows. I find myself watching the chickens in my backdoor neighbor’s yard. From my perspective, my neighbors are living the American Dream. They have five acres of land plunked down in the middle of a fairly average American middle-class neighborhood. The couple has one little girl and a second baby on the way. They are both educated; the husband works full time at his job and the wife works part time a few evenings a week at a local college. The rest of their time is spent having a little farm in the big city complete with fruit trees, a garden, several horses, a pasture for the happiest free-range chickens that I have ever seen (and a few turkeys), and of course the requisite dog and cat.
I love it when I look out back and the couple’s little girl is walking around the pasture holding a chicken. The chickens are raised to be gentle, so they don’t mind being toted around the yard by a three year old. It’s a perfectly pastoral scene and I feel both joy and peace watching the moments unfold.
There is always a bit of irony as I look between the happy chickens running around outside and the chicken pieces lying waiting for preparation in my kitchen sink. My neighbors are wise with their chickens. Not only do the chickens provide entertainment and companionship for them, they also provide eggs and, when the time is right, they provide food for the family. It’s the natural order of things.
I have thought of raising a few chickens of my own, but I’m afraid that my chickens would be really depressed when they saw how the neighbor’s chickens got to live. True, I really think that way. For now, I’ll content myself with preparing tasty chicken dishes for the fam.
As I read a large number of recipes and information about arroz con pollo (Spanish chicken and rice), I found that this dish can be quite varied in ingredients. Arroz con pollo originated in Spain, which I was surprised to learn. I had always thought that it was a Hispanic dish, which explains my confusion as I read the ingredients in various recipes. Once I learned the history of arroz con pollo, everything fell into place.
There seems to be no right or wrong way to make this dish. It is regional as well as intercontinental. I thought about everything that I had learned and decided to make up my own version of arroz con pollo. Please understand that I am not being snobby when I say that this was surprisingly delicious. Addictively delicious actually. I had fun making something different from the types of food with which I tend to stick, combining flavors which I have not combined previously. The number one ingredient that threw me just a little bit was the pimiento stuffed green olives. I like green olives, but I haven’t ever used them in a casserole. What a great secret ingredient!