It’s crazy to think that the first time I wrote about Arroz Caldo on this blog was over 10 years ago (I’m old), wherein I explained the Filipino chicken and rice porridge’s place within my own family traditions. Though Arroz Caldo can certainly be made any time of year, the Pinoy porridge is in heavy rotation around the holidays for my family: My mom usually makes a pot around Christmastime, and I’ve continued that tradition with my own wife and kids and make a giant pot of our own every New Year’s Eve (again, I’m old).
My yearly congee conjuring consists of white rice, matchstick slivers of fresh ginger, thin half-moon onion slices, bone-in chicken thighs, and more than a few heavy-handed dashes from my bottle of fish sauce — all of which bubbles away in a large 6-quart enameled pot for the better part of an hour, if not two.
But because I was gifted an Instant Pot this past Christmas, my Arroz Caldo cookery on New Year’s was a bit more streamlined to say the least. Admittedly, I’ve avoided the Instant Pot craze the past couple of years not because I doubted the usefulness of the Instant Pot, but because I doubted its usefulness for me. Because we have limited space in our kitchen, I just didn’t think I’d get much use out of this new-fangled pressure cooker to justify it taking up precious real estate on our kitchen counters or cabinets. After my maiden voyage with the Instant Pot, I knew I was wrong about its usefulness — cook time* for my Arroz Caldo was only 25 minutes! 25 minutes! 25 minutes, yo!
Alright, about that asterisk* above. That cook time doesn’t include the time it took to for my Instant Pot to come up to pressure and seal, which was another 30-35 minutes. But still, I just took all my usual Arroz Caldo ingredients, threw them into the Instant Pot, selected the Porridge setting on High Pressure, and set the timer for 25 minutes. That’s it.
My usual stovetop method involves sweating the onions and ginger in chicken fat or oil, bringing everything to a boil, and shredding the chicken by hand after it’s been simmering for a bit. But with the Instant Pot, none of that was necessary. The most impressive thing, besides the quick cooking time, was that I just reached a pair of tongs into the Instant Pot, grabbed a chicken thigh, and the meat just slid off the bone with a gentle shake. Then, after the pot is stirred with a wooden spoon, the chicken meat falls apart even more and practically shreds itself! Best of all, the flavor of the finished Arroz Caldo was identical to my usual stovetop version.
Alright, enough babbling. Below is my recipe for Instant Pot Arroz Caldo (I have a 6qt Instant Pot). If you’ve cooked the Arroz Caldo recipe from my Adobo Road Cookbook, you’ll notice that the ingredients in my book and the ingredients for this Instant Pot recipe are nearly identical, the method is the only thing that has changed. Enjoy.
- 2 lbs skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3-4 thighs)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- One 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
- 2 cups uncooked white rice, rinsed and drained
- 8 cups water, plus more if needed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Calamansi limes, or lemon wedges
- Additional fish sauce, to taste
- Using your hands, remove the skin from the chicken thighs. Set the skin aside for crisping (see note).
- Add the chicken thighs, onion, ginger, fish sauce, rice, and water to the inner pot of the Instant Pot.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the vent is pointed to "Sealing".
- Select the Porridge setting, on High Pressure, and set the cooktime to 25 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Open the Instant pot. Using tongs, remove the bones from the chicken thighs. Discard bones.
- Stir the Arroz Caldo in the pot with a wooden spoon. If the Arroz Caldo is thicker than you'd like, stir in more water for a soupier porridge. Season with salt and pepper, and fish sauce if desired.
- In a large cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat, lay the reserved chicken skins flat with the smooth side down, working in batches if necessary.
- Press on the chicken skins with a spatula to keep them as flat as possible. The chicken skins will begin to render and fry in their own liquefied fat, so no oil is needed.
- Continue frying the chicken skins, flipping and turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total.
- Transfer the crispy chicken skins to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. You can crumble the crispy chicken skins, or leave them whole, whichever you prefer.
- Add the sliced garlic to the hot fat in the pan, and fry the garlic until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crisped garlic to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Ladle the Arroz Caldo into bowls, garnish with crispy chicken skins, crispy garlic, and sliced green onions. Serve with calamansi limes and extra fish sauce on the side.
I like to remove the skin from the chicken thighs, and fry that skin separately for a chicken skin chicharon garnish. You can skip this step if you'd like, but you'd be missing out on the miracle that is crispy chicken skin cracklins.