On Serenity and Serendipity

Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft, monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines…
… Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

There is an indescribable calm that has come to possess me. My weary arms and legs are slack, my mind is numb. My nerves are blunted, my passions quieted. And though I am constantly surrounded by the uproar of crowds and the hardships of life, all that noise is muffled by the sighs of the undulating waves, the infinite resonance that quiets the agitations of the mind, the water enveloping the body, reducing one’s world to a single concentrated state of tranquility. I can feel my hair in the reeds, the caress of the water on my heavy limbs, the tickle of foam on my cheeks… I call this Post-Midterm Syndrome.

It is a bit of a zen-like experience, to finally feel free and at peace with oneself. No, I don’t mean that I am levitating off the ground or that my aura is glowing bright yellow. I just feel this inner serenity that I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s rather pleasant, and I’m quite fond of it.

Now that I am mentally and spiritually sated, my physiological needs (think Maslow) require some attention as well. For months now, Kari has been begging me to make Arroz con Pollo, or Chicken and Rice. We have been drooling over Smitten’s pictures for a loong time, so I decided it was about time we try it out. As this was a bit spontaneous, I realized that I didn’t have all the specified ingredients, so… ta-da! My own personal take on Arroz Con Pollo.


Arroz Con Pollo
This is definitely another easy and college-friendly meal. It is not ingredient heavy, and most of the ingredients have long shelf lives. I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients, but you can make do without them as long as you DO NOT skimp on the SPICES. It is ESSENTIAL that you have cumin, oregano, bay leaves and some HEAT – paprika, cayenne, chili powder, the works. Everything else is supplemental.
It is made in only one pot, so clean up is a breeze! Did I mention that it is hearty and super satisfying?
serves 3 | est. time: 2 hours
*all measurements are guesstimates

Ingredients
3 large chicken drumsticks, 2 fryer thighs, skin attached
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs vinegar

1/2 can Spam (Chorizo substitute)
1 large red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and diced
cumin, dried oregano, whole dried bay leaves
paprika, chili & cayenne pepper
salt & pepper, to taste
1 12 oz. can Bud Light
1 1/2 14 oz. can chicken broth
1 3/4 cups uncooked rice

Directions

After cleaning the chicken and allow to dry, place in large bowl and marinate with 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbs vinegar, 1-2 tsp dried oregano, a dash of salt (can be omitted) and pepper. Combine well. Wrap in plastic and allow to marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

One hour later…

In a large pot, sear your diced Spam to render some fat for your dish on high heat. More authentic Arroz Con Pollo calls for Chorizo, but like I said – you learn to work with what you got. Next, throw in the rest of your minced garlic, diced onions and bell pepper, reducing the heat to medium. Let those veggies sweat and soften, stirring occasionally. The Spam has all the salt content you need for the dish, so I suggest omitting extra salt. But if you like veering on the side of over seasoned, then by all means, go for it. Add 3-5 pinches of cumin, a generous teaspoon of oregano, LOTS of paprika/chilli powder/cayenne pepper, and bay leaves. Toss, cook, stir.

From refrigerator, remove chicken and add to Spam pot – marinade and all. Continue cooking over medium heat, stir often. Keep covered if you can, as it will cook faster. Cook until the meat is firm and you don’t see pink. Drumsticks take quite a while, and I often under cook meat, so I’ve learned to use a thermometer. If you have one, the internal temperature should read around 165*F or so. Add your one can of beer and bring beer and chicken up to a simmer.

Remove fully cooked chicken pieces and set aside.

In your simmering pot, add chicken stock and rice, making sure the rice is completely submerged by liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low. Keep tightly covered, cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are fluffy and no longer crunchy.

Once the rice is finished cooking, there should be only minimal liquid left in the pot, though everything is still nice and moist. If you feel that you over-salted (as I tend to do) or that the rice is undercooked, add 1/2 cup water, stir and let cook for a few more minutes in the covered pot. Once ready, put chicken back into pot and allow to reheat before serving.
Serve right off the stove.

This one pot served the apartment. Piggy ended up stuffing a tortilla (or two) with the rice and chicken, as a wrap was more portable – great idea if you’re on the go. I ate it as is, whereas Kari promptly dug out all the Spam before engulfing her plate. Either way, it was delicious, and another go-to recipe for a fast and easy week night dinner, allowing me more time to revel in freedom and day-dream about nothing. I love this feeling. I hope it lasts! But it is often said that “there is the calm before the storm…” I’m not sure what to make of that, perhaps foreshadowing? Tune in next time and I’ll let you know.

Until soon foodies!
AnhD

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