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Cuban Arroz Imperial

Cuban Arroz Imperial

Ingredients:

YELLOW RICE

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can sliced pimentos,
4 oz, drained (plus more for garnish, optional)
1 can tomato sauce, 8 oz
2 cups uncooked White Enriched Long Grain Rice, washed and drained
3 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube
Pinch of achiote, annatto or turmeric powder to color the rice
1 bay leaf

SHREDDED CHICKEN

3 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast, (you can use a rotisserie chicken to save time)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock to deglaze the pan

FOR THE LAYERS

2 cups shredded cheese, Gouda, Cheddar, any melty cheese will work!
1/2 cup mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream

Directions:

1. In a Dutch oven or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Add sliced pimentos and tomato sauce. Sauté for 1 minute. Add rice, water, bouillon cube, achiote and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. The steam is what cooks the rice. After 15 minutes, remove from heat. Keep the lid on for another 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

4. In a skillet, add olive oil, onions, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Sauté onions with spices for 5 minutes at medium-high heat. Add garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan then add the shredded chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. In an 8x8 baking dish, you will begin layering your ingredients. First, start by spreading a thin layer of mayonnaise at the bottom. This will prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the dish.

7. Next, add a layer of rice, then a layer of shredded chicken, then a layer of shredded cheese, another layer of rice, a thicker layer of mayonnaise, a layer of shredded chicken, and top it off with a thick layer of shredded cheese.

8. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes to melt the cheese. Garnish with sliced olives and pimentos, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe and images courtesy of "A Sassy Spoon"