Spanish chicken and rice: did it really come from Spain?


If there is something that can be said about Latin American Food, it is that it is extremely varied, so much so that even defining it with the label of Latin American gastronomy is impossible, it is too immense. The flavors and aromas and the small differences create a titanic task. So a less wide question is needed.

That is why the focus of the following question is centered on a single dish, however, it could be talking about Latin American food as a whole, about its beginnings, about its changes; it’s easier to find truth by approaching with a more humble question.

And that question turns out to be: did the chicken with rice really come from Spain?

A classic in gastronomy

It seems normal to go back to the past to find the answer, but this rational reaction does not give precise answers.

The place where this dish was created is not clear. It is cooked in many Latin American countries, but chicken with rice does not have a single way of making it, there are different ways each culture uses, and are all valid.

However, it is well-known that the similarities with the worldwide famous Spanish dish called Paella, are due to how the influence of this country has been expanding through the centuries all over the continent, modifying some traditions depending on the needs of each community.

Nonetheless, both these dishes cannot be compared, there are several ways to cook a Paella, but it is always going to look and taste like a Paella, but the Spanish chicken and rice is always a tasty changing dish.

In summary, it could be said that this dish has its origin in the Spanish lands, however, it cannot be denied that it did not take its current form until it reached Latin American shores.

Spanish chicken and rice recipe

This rice-based meal is excellent for family gatherings, although easy enough to make even for a modest dinner for one or two.

Ingredients for the chicken:

  • Olive oil.
  • 3 cups of chicken broth.
  • 1½ cup medium grain rice.
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste.
  • 1 medium-sized red onion.
  • 4 chicken drumsticks.
  • 1 large ripe tomato paste.
  • 4 chicken thighs (complete with bone and skin).
  • 1 large green bell pepper cored.
  • 6 oz bulk chorizo sausage (peeled).

Ingredients for spice rub:

  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper.
  • 1 tsp black pepper.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 1 tsp salt.


  1. Wet the rice, that is the first important step to do, and then rinse very well and place it in a dry bowl. Then immerse the rice in more water and leave it this way for 15 minutes before draining it. Later, it should be easy to break the grain of rice.
  2. Continue by making the spice rub. Use a small container to mix all the spices listed, plus the salt and pepper.
  3. Pat the chicken dry and season with spices, be sure to lift the skin a bit and apply a little spice underneath (this will help increase the flavor).
  4. In a deep and large skillet with a cover, heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers without smoking. So immediately and carefully place the chicken and brown deeply all around. When it is done, set it aside for later.
  5. In the same pan, roast the chorizo for 10 minutes; stir regularly until it has nicely browned. Mix garlic and onion, and incorporate them along with the green peppers. Keep cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes, stir often.
  6. Now the chopped tomatoes can be thrown into the mix, along with the tomato paste and the chicken broth. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken and put it on a dish near the stove for a short while. Put the rice into the cooking liquid.
  8. Continue cooking uncovered over high heat for 2 minutes. On top of the rice, place the chicken and raise the temperature to a simmer, cover and cook both together until the rice is fully done.
  9. Turn the heat off and let it rest (pan covered) for 10 more minutes.  It’s recommendable to serve this dish hot.