In 1964, my parents––school teachers from San Jose, California––took my two older sisters and me to live in Cali, Colombia. For two years they taught and we girls went to school at the Colegio Bolívar, a German/American school. They loved everything about Colombia, including the language, the rich coffee, the many varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the cuisine. They learned to cook many dishes from our wonderful live-in nanny and maid, Julia. One dish that my mother and Julia made often was Arroz con Pollo. It has some interesting ingredients: canned vienna sausages; saffron, which must be used to obtain the true color and flavor of this dish; and boiled ham (the lunch meat variety) to list a few. For me, the flavors of this dish are the flavors of Colombia and of my childhood. —Caroline F
chicken, cut up
can, baby peas
carrots, sliced and cooked
ham, lunch meat or leftover, cubed
cans, vienna sausages, sliced
green bell pepper, finely chopped
tomato, finely chopped
yellow onion, finely chopped
salt (or to taste)
- In a large dutch oven or heavy pot add the chicken, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, saffron, thyme, oregano, onion, tomato, and two thirds of the bell pepper. Cover with 7–8 cups of water, enough to make a good amount of broth. Bring to boil, then turn down to medium simmer and cook until chicken is tender, 45 minutes to one hour.
- Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. Bone the chicken, cut into medium size pieces, and set aside.
- Strain chicken broth, then measure 6 cups of broth and 3 cups of rice back into dutch oven. Cook until rice is tender and broth is absorbed, about 20–25 minutes.
- Gently stir and fluff the rice, then add the chicken meat, carrots, peas (drained), ham, vienna sausages, rest of bell pepper, capers and ketchup to the cooked rice. Stir all ingredients once or twice, gently. On low, heat the rice stirring gently two or three times so it does not stick to the pan. Serves 15 to 18. Very good reheated and can be frozen and then reheated.