I love Mexican food. Really, tex-mex, because I can't imagine what I'm getting, or making, in Nebraska, is terribly authentic. I can eat tacos for days in a row, (and have, for lunch, when we had a taco bar party and I vastly overestimated how much meat we'd need,) and I've found various tex-mex recipes to try out at home when I'm oddly not quite as ready to try them in a restaurant. This particular recipe came about due to my great love of tex-mex, and my need to use up a large pack of chicken thighs I'd found on sale. It might even be a bit more authentic than our usual fare.
One note before launching into the recipe: This recipe requires ancho chile powder. Ancho chile powder is dried poblanos ground to a powder. As such, it is much milder than other chile powders, and some say even a bit sweeter. I couldn't find any this time around and ended up substituting chipotle chile powder, which is much hotter and has a smoked flavor, being made from dried and smoked jalapeños. If you end up having to do the same, be sure to reduce the amount. I used 1/4 teaspoon to the 1 teaspoon called for, though I think I'd increase it to a half teaspoon next time, as the flavor was good but there wasn't much heat. DO NOT sub in "chili powder", which is a whole different animal than the various "chile" powders. Chili powder is a blend of chile powder, often ancho but not always, and spices like oregano, cumin, and others. If you use chili powder, you risk throwing off all the seasoning, and also ending up with a much hotter dish, depending on what type of chile they used as a base.
Arroz con Pollo, from Poulet, by Cree LeFavour
8 to 10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 T peanut oil, plus more for the chicken
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 t ancho chile powder or 1 dried ancho chile (see note above)
1 t cumin seeds
1/4 t ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup black beans, cooked from dried or rinsed and drained canned beans (We used kidney beans here, as Chris isn't a fan of black beans)
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (left these out, can't stand cilantro!)
Flaky salt for finishing
1/2 cup mexican crema or sour cream
Rub the chicken with peanut oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let rest on your counter to take the chill off, about 30 minutes.
Heat the 1 T peanut oil in a 12 in. or larger cast iron frying pan or a 5 qt. or larger dutch oven. (We went the dutch oven route and were very glad for the high sides. Ours is a 6 qt., and we had a bit of room at the top by the end of this, but not much.) Working in batches, lay the thighs in the pan, skin side down. Cook until nicely browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. (I was a bit impatient, so mine aren't as 'nicely browned' as they could have been.) As you finish each batch, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. When all the chicken is browned, pour off the excess oil but don't clean the pan. Return it to heat.
Add the onion, chile powder, cumin seeds, and cinnamon to the pan and cook over medium heat until everything is fragrant, about 7 minutes.
Add the garlic and rice to the pan and cook, stirring until the rice is translucent and begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the beans, stock, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and stir. Return the chicken to the pot. Cover and cook until the rice is tender and the chicken in the thickest part is cooked through. The temperature should be at 175ºF and should be just barely pink at the bone, with clear juices. There will be a lot of liquid left simmering around the chicken at this point. Resist the urge to let it simmer and reduce, since as soon as you stir and the rice is no longer stuck on the bottom of the pot, you will need that liquid.
Sprinkle each serving with the cilantro and flaky salt. Pass the crema at the table. Enjoy!