What's Cooking: Rotisserie Chicken Arroz Caldo

Rotisserie Chicken Arroz Caldo

One of the side effects of moving from New York to Geneva is that I've become a far better cook. In New York, I lived alone and could have delicious soup from a variety of Asian countries delivered my door in half an hour, so there was little incentive to cook. Here in Geneva, where meals are double the price and not quite up to my expectations, I've gotten used to cooking regularly for me and my guy. I've been cooking quite a bit of Filipino food, in particular, since there are no Filipino restaurants here. This has resulted in bringing me lots of comfort while also slowly but surely converting my guy into a Filipino food lover.

His favorite so far has been my arroz caldo. Funny enough, despite having lived away from Manila for the past 10 years, I made arroz caldo for the very first time in Geneva. For some reason, I was convinced that it was tough to make, when it is actually ridiculously easy. It is especially easy if you happen to have some leftover rotisserie chicken on hand. Rotisserie chicken is such a yummy and easy dinner option so we have it at least once a week. As a result, we've also been having arroz caldo as a follow up dish pretty consistently. It's so perfect for the chilly winter weather, plus J loves it! The first time I made arroz caldo, J looked at me with wonder and said, "It's amazing—I think I actually prefer what you made with the leftovers to the original dish!"

The secret lies in using the rotisserie chicken carcass to make a flavorful broth for the arroz caldo. It's so easy, far healthier and way more delicious than preservative-packed bouillon cubes. If you'd like to try it for yourself, here's my easy peasy, handy-dandy recipe.

Rotisserie Chicken Arroz Caldo

Cook time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Broth ingredients:
Rotisserie chicken carcass (bones and skin)
2 bay leaves
1 onion, cut in half
1 carrot, quartered
1 stalk of celery, quartered
3-5 cloves of garlic
Handful of peppercorns
2 liters water

Arroz Caldo ingredients:
Shredded rotisserie chicken meat
1 cup of uncooked jasmine rice
1 thumb of ginger, julienned
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
2-3 stalks of chopped scallions, for garnish
Cooking oil (vegetable or olive)
Chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Fish sauce
1 lemon, quartered

Instructions

  1. Put all the chicken broth ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil then turn down into a simmer. Simmer for at least one hour then strain the broth using a sieve.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot then saute the ginger, garlic and onion. 
  3. When the onion is soft, add in the chicken and rice. Season with salt and pepper. If your kitchen ventilation can handle it, you can substitute salt with fish sauce.
  4. Pour in the chicken broth and boil. If you don't have enough broth to cover the chicken and rice, add water.
  5. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Simmer while covered, coming back every 5 minutes to stir. Once the consistency turns thick and porridge-like, your arroz caldo is done (approximately 30-45 minutes).
  6. Serve with chopped scallions on top and a small dish of fish sauce with lemon on the side. You can also up the ante by adding a sliced boiled egg, fried garlic chips, crumbled chicharron and/or a dash of saffron as toppings.

Montreux Marché de Nöel

Montreux Riviera at Christmas, Marché de Nöel

"Pas de retour à Genève," said our train conducter with a straight face as he looked at our return tickets from Geneva to Montreux. He was only joking, course, when he told us that we could not come back from Montreux—but after a few hours in this beautiful lake side town, we thought maybe there was something more to that funny train conductor's joke. After all, even Queen's legendary frontman Freddie Mercury was so smitten with Montreux after recording some of his last songs here that he decided to stay. The feeling was mutual; the city of Montreux claimed Freddie as their own and a statue of him still stands triumphantly on the shores of the Montreux Riviera.

Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux

We came to Montreux in search of good old Christmas cheer, as did everyone on this side of Lac Léman, it seemed. It was the first weekend of the Marché de Nöel and a Sunday (when stores and restaurants are typically closed in Switzerland) so people were drawn to it like chestnuts to an open fire.

Roasting chestnuts at Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market)

We came in search of whimsical Christmas ornaments to bring extra cheer to our home. Most of the little booths sold artisanal handicrafts, from glass-blown decorations to hand-carved and painted soaps, which were not exactly what we were looking for. But eventually we found a few choice Christmas tree ornaments to take home: a little vintage-looking John Deere airplane and a whimsical little mercury glass owl. I still regret not buying one of the naughty gnomes, I must admit.

Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)
Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)
Naughty middle finger gnome at Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)
Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)

We were pleasantly surprised by the array of delicious things to be devoured at the Christmas market. We expected the hot mulled wine, raclette and fondue but were thrilled to discover sandwiches piled with seared foie gras and duck meat, then drizzled with either fig or truffle sauce. We stayed long enough to also grab dinner from one of the stands hawking staggering amounts of rösti, gratin des pommes, pork hocks, sausages and sauerkraut. And of course to have some good old, spiced vin chaud.

Foie gras sandwich at Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)
Sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut at Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)
Vin chaud at Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)

Despite the crowds, Montreux was a delight. We took some time to also walk around the lake and take in a glorious sun setting behind the Alps. That was where we came to the conclusion that what makes Montreux so special is that it gives you the feeling that something cool can always happen while also giving you the assurance of peace. As Freddie Mercury said, "If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux." We certainly found some of that there and true to the train conductor's word, we found ourselves reluctant to leave and eager to return.

Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)
Sunset by Lac Lèman in Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux Marché de Nöel (Christmas Market in Switzerland)