Most Viewed Stories
Your Neighbor's Favorite Recipe: Panamanian Style Chicken and Rice
Patricia Trawnizek of Yuba City shares a healthy, inexpensive recipe
One of the nice things about living in a multi-cultural society is the wide range of foods that we can enjoy. In this area, we have Mexican, Indian, various styles of other Asian cuisines, German, Italian, Hmong and — thanks to Patricia Trawnizek — we also have Panamanian.
Born and raised in Panama City, Panama ("I'm a city girl"), Patricia said she grew up in a family of bakers.
Patricia, who came to Yuba City in early 1996 from Yuma, Ariz., has a diverse work history ranging from baker to business owner to minister's wife to United Nations employee teaching English to Panamanian high school students.
She said her present job as an independent living specialist — she helps people learn how to remain independent and safe in their homes — and coordinator for the Friendly Visitor Program at FREED Center for Independent Living in Marysville uses many of the skills she's learned over the years. She explained that because of all the jobs she's held, she has learned how to work closely with and understand people of all ages.
Patricia explained that the Friendly Visitor Program uses volunteers to serve as companions for seniors. Her ability to connect with people helps her match these seniors in need with the correct volunteer.
Turning to her Panamanian style chicken and rice recipe, Patricia said, "This is the way we make chicken and rice at home." She clarified that by saying it's not exactly what she grew up with, because: "I always take a recipe and make it my own. I hate to follow a recipe because I have my own way of making food, and I always like to add a personal touch."
For her Panamanian Style Chicken and Rice, or Arroz con Pollo estilo Panameno, Patricia starts with the chicken.
Using both a chicken breast and chicken legs, she places the meat into a large pot filled about three-quarters full of water. She adds chicken bouillon, half an onion, bay leaves and small envelopes of sazon, or consome de pollo con tomato.
Patricia said the sazon spice packets are not only good for chicken and rice — they can add a wonderful flavor to all kinds of chicken dishes. She added that they're fairly easy to find in most grocery stores, but they can definitely be found at markets catering to Hispanic clients.
Once the chicken is cooked and the meat is ready to fall off the bones — about 40 minutes — it's time to prepare the rice. Patricia said that any rice will work, even brown rice, but she prefers long-grain white rice.
In a large deep skillet, Patricia poured in a thin layer of oil and turned the heat up to medium. She poured in the rice with half of the onion, pepper, bay leaves and garlic and then let it sizzle for about 10 minutes.
While the rice was frying, Patricia spooned the chicken out of its pot and pulled it off the bones before placing bite-sized pieces of the meat into the hot rice. She then poured the chicken broth into the rice and chicken mixture and added all of the remaining ingredients.
One of the less common ingredients she uses is culantro. Patricia said it's a plant with a flat leaf that tastes somewhat like cilantro. "It has a very particular taste. We use it for our (chicken) soups."
Looking at the mixture, Patricia decided it needed a little more water. She explained that the mixture should have a bit of liquid on top for the rice to absorb.
The final step in the cooking process is to bring it to a slow boil then cover it. "When the rice is actually bubbling and I can see a film of water on top of the rice, that's when I lower my heat to low and cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes," Patricia said.
Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, it's time to serve. Patricia creates a nice presentation by filling a small bowl with the rice and chicken mixture and pressing it down so it takes the shape of the bowl. She then turns the bowl upside down over a large lettuce leaf to unmold the chicken and rice.
Patricia said Panamanian Style Chicken and Rice makes a nice inexpensive, healthy meal when served with a green salad.
PANAMANIAN STYLE CHICKEN AND RICE
1 medium sized chicken breast
4 chicken drumsticks
1 to 2 small envelopes of either Goya Sazon Culantro y Achiote, Maggie Consome de Pollo con tomate, Knorr Chicken bouillon (gives the food a yellow color and chicken flavor plus other Latino flavor already included in this seasonings)
1 small onion, diced, divided use
Vegetable oil, for frying the rice
1 cup dry rice (long-grain is best, but any style should work)
Ground pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste or tomato sauce
1⁄2 cup green olives, pitted
1⁄4 cup capers
Salt, to taste (season carefully because the Goya and Maggie seasonings contain salt)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 culantro leaves (can substitute cilantro, if necessary)
1 cup green peas or mixed vegetables
1 cube chicken bouillon
In a large pot, add the chicken pieces, the small envelopes of sazon or consome de pollo con tomate and the chicken bouillon and half the onion. Bring to a boil.
Remove the chicken when it is cooked through and the meat is no longer pink — about 40 minutes. Save the broth.
Tear the chicken meat off the bones into small pieces. Set the meat aside.
Fry the uncooked rice in oil with the remainder of the onion, pepper, bay leaves and garlic for about 15 minutes.
Add the reserved broth, chicken pieces, tomato paste, olives, capers and salt, bell pepper, culantro, vegetables and bouillon.
Add additional water if there isn't enough broth to cover the rice by about an inch.
Cover and cook over medium heat until boiling, then turn the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.
You can add a little extra water while cooking, if needed, to reach the desired texture of rice.
Serve with a green salad for a tasty, healthy meal.