A Latin American staple with an upland bird twist, this recipe utilizes the legs of prairie grouse embedded in a sea of deliciously seasoned rice
Like many classic Latin American dishes, there are many variations when it comes to Arroz con Pollo (Spanish for “Rice with Chicken”). With this variation, we’re using prairie grouse legs (so your sharp-tailed grouse or prairie chickens), but you can use any upland bird legs.
The main difference you’ll find in this recipe versus other Arroz-related Latin American dishes: These instructions account for the extra time necessary to tenderize wild bird legs. The legs and thighs of wild birds will toughen up significantly before tenderizing. Domestic chickens don’t do this. Plan ahead and know you’ll need to start prepping this meal at least five hours prior to when you want to eat.
You can indeed find premade Sazon spice mixes. This one is my own, using fairly common spices that you can find at most grocery stores.
Arroz Con Prairie GrouseJack Hennessy
- Food processor
- 1 1/4 pound prairie grouse legs skinless
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 5-6 cups chicken stock mixed use
- 1/2 cup Goya Sofrito
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 serrano pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh garlic
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 medium yellow onion roughly chopped
- 1 on-the-vine tomato diced
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- olive oil
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper dustings
- fresh scallions sliced, for garnish
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp dry oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 hours prior to cooking, mix Sazon in a bowl and liberally rub prairie grouse legs with mix. Leave out of fridge to bring to room temperature.
- After 2 hours, pre-heat to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Add an oven-safe tray or pan to store grouse legs after they are seared.
- In a large cast-iron skillet, add a thin layer of olive oil and once hot (minimum 450 degrees Fahrenheit), add prairie grouse legs two at a time, careful not to crowd pan, and sear both sides until browned and crisp. Once fully seared, add to oven pan (oven heated to 275 degrees). Turn heat off on skillet. Do not clean skillet.
- Let legs roast half hour in oven at 275 then pull and put in a separate, small skillet and mostly cover with chicken stock. Cover and heat on medium low for 1 1/2 hours.
- After legs have cooked for 2 hours, start the second half of this recipe, which is making the rice. In a food processor add the medium yellow onion, fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, serrano pepper, and 1/3 red bell pepper (rough chopped). Pulse about a dozen times. Do not puree. Contents should have texture.
- Heat on medium the same skillet used for initial sear on prairie grouse legs. Add pulsed contents of food processor and lightly salt and pepper. Stir often and add 1 tablespoon salted butter to help deglaze pan.
- In that same skillet, add 2 cups extra long grain rice. Lightly salt and pepper. Stir often and cook for a few minutes, then add Goya Sofrito. Cook for 1 minute.
- To that large, main skillet, add 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock to rice. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Once liquids start to boil, turn to medium-low and remove legs from separate, small skillet and add to first, large skillet atop rice.
- Keep the large, main skillet covered and heated on medium-low until rice absorbs liquids (could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending on your burner and skillet size). Once liquids are absorbed, add diced on-the-vine tomato and leave covered. Heat on low for another 15 minutes.
- Check tenderness of legs prior to serving. If still tough, add back to separate, small skillet and cover. Add additional chicken stock to keep legs mostly covered and cook on medium-low until tender. Keep rice in main skillet covered on low or with heat off. Once legs are tender, serve atop ample helping of rice. Garnish with freshly sliced scallions (if desired).
Jack Hennessy grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago and didn't start hunting until he attended graduate school in Spokane, Washington, at the age of 26. Hennessy began work in professional kitchens in high school but didn't start writing wild game recipes until he joined the Spokesman-Review in 2014. Since then, his recipes have appeared with Petersen's Hunting, Backcountry Journal, Gun Dog Magazine, among many others. He now lives with his wife, daughter, and Wirehaired Vizsla, Dudley, in Wichita, Kansas.