One of my favorite TV shows of all time is I Love Lucy, and I do love Lucy! Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) was Desi Arnaz and his character Ricki Ricardo’s favorite dish. Lucy often mocked Ricky’s Cuban accent, but when it came to speaking Spanish she was no expert. Here she is trying to tell Ricky’s mother (who just arrived from Cuba and doesn’t speak English) that they are having Arroz con Pollo for dinner…
Ricky and Fred also engaged in some extreme Arroz con Pollo buffoonery in the episode when they switch jobs with Lucy and Ethel (that famous candy factory episode). The boys are in charge of making dinner and it doesn’t go very well. Fred makes a seven-layer cake that is as flat as a pancake, and Ricky’s Arroz con Pollo is an *epic fail*. There is even a situation with a rice-volcano! You can catch a clip on YouTube, but I must warn you that there are two very realistic looking plucked-chicken props (I assume they are props) involved.
I did lots of research and found that there are many different versions of Arroz con Pollo. It looks like as long as you start off with a good sofrito, which is the base of this dish, you are probably going to end up with a great Arroz con Pollo. Some recipes call for sage, some call for cumin, and some call for beer, and of course all recipes call for chicken. None of those ingredients appealed to me, so I had to wing it using a few different recipes. This one, this one, and this one were the three main recipes that guided me through my Cuban adventure.
To make my sofrito, I sautéed chopped onion, green and red bell peppers, and fresh tomato in a little olive oil, then added my herbs and spices which were saffron, paprika, oregano, salt, and black pepper. I also sprinkled some nutritional yeast over the sofrito to help the saffron make the rice yellow. Garlic gives me heartburn so I had to leave that out. I loved this dish so much that I made four meatless versions of it. First up, Arroz con Pollo… sin Pollo. Arroz con Mushrooms… er… Arroz con Hongos!
The mushrooms were marinated in some not-chicken broth with some oregano, paprika, garlic powder, and tamari, and then pan fried in a little olive oil. Next comes my tofu splurge of the week – Quinoa con Tofu:
Delicious, and it was probably my favorite adaptation. Version #3 is Millet con Gardein Chick’n Scallopini:
And last but not least comes the Couscous con Gardein Chick’n:
The smell of the sofrito while it’s cooking is indescribable! I wish you could smell this picture of the Quinoa con Tofu cooking in the sofrito and not-chicken broth…
That’s plenty of savory goods-let’s bring on the sweets! For dessert I made a Flan de Coco, or coconut flan. Here is the cheater version:
Almost flawless, isn’t it? Yea, but that’s because I didn’t really make it. I bought a box of Goya Flan, added coconut milk to the mix and stuck it in the fridge until it was done. Voila! Flan.
Ingredients from the box: Sugar, dextrose, calcium carragheen, salt, vanillin (an artificial flavor) and artificial color including FD & C yellow #5. Contains no eggs.
This flan wasn’t bad, but Mr. Wing-It wasn’t crazy about its odd texture. He didn’t quite call it “goo”, like Joey Tribbiani did on FRIENDS though.
After the non-challenge that was the Goya flan, I wanted to make my own from scratch. Off to the interwebs I went. There are lots of flan recipes out there, most of them for traditional egg based flan, and a few for silken tofu based flan. This is the recipe that I chose, but I really didn’t want to use tofu because the silken variety isn’t my favorite and I wanted it to be soy-free anyway. So, I was in the shower (this is where most of my lucid thoughts emerge from the brain jumble) trying to think of something to use instead of silken tofu, and some time between lather, rinse and repeat it hit me: Ricki! No, I did not want to put Ricki in my flan! I remembered that there is an outstanding custard recipe on her cookbook (Sweet Freedom) that calls for cooked millet. Eureka! That should work!
It worked indeed! Definitely not flawless like Mr. Goya’s flan was, but it was my very first, made-from-scratch, egg-free, dairy-free, and soy-free flan! The flan recipe from VegCooking worked perfectly swapping blended soft-cooked millet for tofu. I used coconut milk instead of soy milk and also added a pinch of turmeric for color.
The millet based Flan De Coco had more texture than the Goya mix. It was a cross between flan and pudding, which caused Mr. Wing-It to very wittily name it “fludding”. While Mr. Wing-It isn’t exactly a fan of flan (there’s a tongue-twister!), he preferred the millet version over the flawless Goya. Me? I loved the millet flan! With a little bit of cornstarch instead of agar flakes, I bet it would make a delicious warm millet pudding as well.
Today’s delicious E.A.T World entry is brought to you by Krys! Check out this awesome Indian meal that she made for her vegan dinner co-op. Krys also visited Tunisia on the same blog post! She is so well traveled! :)
Need a napkin to wipe off the drool?
Visit Krys’ blog Two Vegan Boys to find out more about her rockin’ dinner co-op and to *awww* over her two little cutie patooties.
Next week I am taking a break from E.A.T World to share some puppy craftiness with you. I think. It all depends on the state of my fickleness. Adios!