Portuguese Chicken & Rice (Arroz com Frango)


Spring is a funny time of year here in the Northeast.  Some days it’s sunny and you want to stay outside and grill and enjoy the beautiful day and the very next week, you can have 5 days of clouds and rain.  It makes for an interesting trip to the market when trying to plan out meals.  One thing that works rain or shine and really can provide some rainy day comfort is this one pot Portuguese dish, Arroz com Frango (Chicken & Rice)!

I have loved chicken and rice ever since I was a little girl.  What’s not to love right?  There is a juicy flavorful chicken combined with equally flavorful rice and potatoes, not to mention the nuggets of chouriço that are tucked away in there.  It’s really everything you could want from Portuguese cooking all in one spot.

This meal is also quite versatile.  In my house, my dad has always been a big fan of chicken legs, so my mom always made it with just legs.  And if you like that, great, make it just like we do!  But, if you prefer thighs or even breasts, this recipe accommodates that too.  Also, we make this with beer as many of my Portuguese recipes have, but white wine works well too and if you don’t keep alcohol in the house, just use some chicken stock.  It will still be delicious!  The key here is those main Portuguese spices, the crushed red pepper, the chouriço (which is used as much for its flavor as for the meat itself), the garlic and of course the Portuguese All Spice (which can be swapped out for sweet paprika in a pinch).

It’s an easy recipe that has something for the whole family.  Take a look at how I do it…

Start with some fresh chicken. I prefer legs for this recipe, but thighs would be great and if you only do breast, then that works too. I also prefer that it have skin as the skin imparts quite a bit of flavor. It can be removed after cooking if you like.

Start by searing your chicken. (Sorry this picture is so dark! It’s a big dark pot.)

You want to get every side.

Remove the chicken from the pot.

Peel and slice up some hot chouriço.

Chop up a large onion.

Saute the onion in the chicken fat you have just rendered. If not enough fat has been rendered, then you can add some olive oil.

Add in chouriço.

Get a few cloves of garlic.

Smash them with your knife and this makes the peel easy to remove. Add the peeled garlic into the pot.

Chop up about 6-8 potatoes… You want about one small potato per piece of chicken you are using or 1 large for every two pieces.

Add in a bottle of beer. Use that bottle of beer to measure out about 6-8 more of water. (white wine can be substituted for the beer)

Measure out your rice. This is NOT par boiled, medium grain rice. Uncle Ben’s does not work here, neither does any kind of quick cooking rice. Just good old-fashioned rice. I like River Rice.

Add rice into pot.

Add in one small can of tomato sauce.

And one to two heaping Tbs. of ground red pepper.

Add in a good pinch of kosher salt.

Add in Portuguese All Spice. If you don’t have this handy, add in about a tsp. of sweet paprika. (NOT SMOKY)

Keep an eye on it, if the rice needs more water. Once the potatoes have cooked through and the rice is plump and has absorbed most of the liquid, You are through.


Portuguese Chicken & Rice (Arroz com Frango)

Serves 6-8


3-4 lbs. chicken, skin on

8-10 small potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups medium grain white rice

1 large onion, diced

1 beer (or 1 cup white wine or chicken stock)

3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

1 lb. hot chouriço, peeled and sliced

1 (6 oz.) can tomato sauce

2 Tbs. Pimenta moida (crushed red pepper)

1/2 tsp. Portuguese All Spice

1 Tbs. kosher salt

8 cups water


In a large heavy pot over high heat, sear chicken.  Remove chicken from pot and turn heat down to medium heat.  Add in onions, saute.  Add in chouriço and garlic.  Add chicken back in to pot.  Add in beer, water, rice, potatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, All Spice and salt.  Stir.  Cover and cook on low until potatoes are fork tender and rice has plumped to become fully cooked and absorbed most of the liquid.  Watch pot throughout cooking time, stirring and adding water if needed.  

*This is a gluten free recipe so long as white wine is used in lieu of beer.

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