Arroz verde peruano: Peruvian Green Rice

by Terry B on August 2, 2017

A traditional Peruvian dish, green rice gets its green from cilantro and its plentiful flavor from onions, carrots, peas, garlic, cumin and chicken stock. Recipe below.

Peruvian Green Rice

Since moving into our new old house a little over a year ago, we often talk here about how much we love our neighborhood, Pilsen. And we do. But Marion and I also both fell hard for our first Chicago neighborhood, now called Lakeview, but back then, New Town (and less officially but more permanently, Boystown). So we’re always up for an excuse to visit our old nabe. This time, our excuse was a new fast casual Peruvian chicken restaurant, Chopo Chicken.

You order at the counter of this contemporary, bright, big-windowed space. At the heart of the menu is Pollo a la Brasa, crispy, charcoaled chicken that’s “marinated and caramelized over an open flame,” according to their website. When we asked what made the chicken Peruvian, the woman preparing our plates pointed out the stacked ovens behind her, imported from Peru. She also talked about the marinade seasonings (without revealing any trade secrets) and the ají sauces—verde and amarillo—that add flavor and some heat.

The chicken was amazing, with and without the ají sauces, reason enough to visit Chopo Chicken. Just as amazing, though, was the green rice. On the menu, it was just listed as one of the sides, the base for building your plate: quinoa, or white, green or brown rice. White and brown rice, we know. I asked what made the green rice green.

Turns out green rice is a traditional Peruvian dish, and it is so much more than rice. The green comes from puréed cilantro, lots of it. The dish also includes onion, carrots, peas, chicken stock and, sometimes, cumin. As with most traditional dishes, there are many takes on Peruvian Green Rice, some wildly divergent. Here’s how I made it.

Peruvian Green Rice
Serves 4

Peruvian Green Rice is traditionally served with—and sometimes cooked with—chicken. It would be equally at home with grilled pork chops—or with turkey burgers, as we had it.

2 tightly packed cups fresh cilantro leaves, thick stems removed (most of 1 bunch)
1/2 cup water
olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked white rice (we’re liking jasmine these days)
1-1/2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth
1/3 cup frozen peas

Purée cilantro and water in a blender. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium flame. Add onion and carrot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally—don’t brown onion, you just want to sweat it. While onion mixture is cooking, season generously with salt and pepper. Add cumin and garlic to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Add rice to pan and stir to combine. Drizzle in a little more oil, if needed, and cook rice for a few minutes to lightly toast it, stirring often. Add broth and puréed cilantro to pan and stir to combine. Raise heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.

Cook for 5 minutes, then pour peas into the pan—don’t bother to stir into rice at this point. Cover pan and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, incorporating the peas, and adjust seasoning with salt, as needed. Serve.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John/Kitchen Riffs August 2, 2017 at 8:23 am

Chicago has a lot of really neat neighborhoods. Great place to live. And this is a great dish — looks wonderful, bet it tastes better. Thanks!

Dani H August 2, 2017 at 11:36 pm

I wish Greater Metropolitan Phoenix was more like the neighborhoods like you describe in Chicago. Everything is too spread out or too commercialized for the tourist trade. With the temperatures we don’t walk anywhere. I’m sure there must be diversity but it seems like all we have are strip malls with Mexican, Chinese, Thai, sushi or pizza and sub shops along with chain restaurants. I envy you.

The rice looks and sounds delicious. Thanks, Terry.

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